Noticing opportunities for mathematical interaction in the preschool classroom

Year: 2014

Author: Brenda, Wolodko, Sally, Atkins-Burnett

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

  In the past decade, early mathematics learning has received significant international attention in research and policy recommendations (e.g., NCTM, 2013; NRC, 2009; OECD, 2001; 2006). The attention is fuelled by concerns about the importance of mathematics in the twenty-first century (Doig, McCrae & Rowe, 2003) and recognition that a child's mathematical ability in kindergarten is a strong predictor of later mathematics success (Duncan et al., 2007; Krajewski, 2005).    A survey of instructional practices in early childhood mathematics was developed and trialed in a preschool setting, investigating the kinds of incidental and intentional opportunities that arose as well as the kinds of interactions that took place. Teachers met with the researchers in small groups to discuss the results of their surveys, to watch short video clips of interactions in the classrooms in order to practice noticing and to set future goals. The theoretical framework and methodology for the study was based on the construct of "teacher-noticing" (e.g., Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010; Mason, 2002). That is, teachers can only act on opportunities for mathematical interaction when they are noticed. The surveys of instructional practices were analysed looking for common themes. A thematic analysis (Boyatizis, 1998; Braun & Clarke, 2006)  of the meeting transcripts was used to identify key assertions with respect to teacher-noticing of opportunities, action identification, and assumptions regarding actions. Results from this project address a timely issue in preschool teacher-education and professional development and contributes to teacher-noticing theory.