Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 379-397

First online:

Prospective elementary school teachers’ professional noticing of children’s early numeracy

  • Edna O. SchackAffiliated withMorehead State University Email author 
  • , Molly H. FisherAffiliated withUniversity of Kentucky
  • , Jonathan N. ThomasAffiliated withKentucky Center for Mathematics, Northern Kentucky University
  • , Sara EisenhardtAffiliated withNorthern Kentucky University
  • , Janet TassellAffiliated withWestern Kentucky University
  • , Margaret YoderAffiliated withEastern Kentucky University

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The goal of this study is to develop the professional noticing abilities of prospective elementary school teachers in the context of the Stages of Early Arithmetic Learning. In their mathematics methods course, ninety-four prospective elementary school teachers from three institutions participated in a researcher-developed five-session module that progressively nests the three interrelated components of professional noticing—attending, interpreting, and deciding. The module embeds video excerpts of diagnostic interviews of children doing mathematics (representations of practice) to prepare the prospective teachers for similar work. The module culminates with prospective teachers implementing similar diagnostic interviews (approximations of practice) to gain experience in the three component skills of professional noticing. A pre- and post-assessment was administered to measure prospective teachers’ change in the three components. A Wilcoxon signed ranks test was conducted and found the prospective elementary school teachers demonstrated significant growth in all three components. Selected prospective elementary school teacher responses on the pre- and post-assessment are provided to illustrate sample growth in the prospective teachers’ abilities to professionally notice. These results, the first in an ongoing study, indicate the potential that prospective teachers can develop professional noticing skills through this module. Continued data collection and analysis from the ongoing study by these authors and future, longer-term emphasis on professional noticing for prospective teachers should be studied.


Elementary school education Learning progressions Number concepts and operations Pedagogies of practice Teacher education