Advertisement

Does Theory Translate into Practice? An Observational Study of Current Mathematics Pedagogies in Play-Based Kindergarten

  • Hanna Wickstrom
  • Angela Pyle
  • Christopher DeLuca
Article
  • 56 Downloads

Abstract

There is rising concern in research and practice to improve early years mathematics education as initial mathematical mastery sets the foundation for future academic success. In response to these concerns, this study used observational data from 20 kindergarten classrooms to understand current pedagogies teachers use for mathematics. In particular, our study is situated in kindergarten classrooms that promote play as a dominant pedagogical approach as research and policies endorse play as an effective teaching strategy for early learners. However, research also suggests that teachers express challenges implementing novel pedagogies, such as play, and use various forms of instruction when teaching math. Results showed teachers used four mathematics pedagogies (free play, guided play, teacher-directed play, and direct instruction). The enactment of these pedagogies gave rise to three classroom pedagogical orientations: child-controlled, shared-control, or teacher-controlled math contexts, indicating that combinations of play and direct instruction pedagogies are used to teach math in kindergarten.

Keywords

Play Pedagogy Math Kindergarten 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant No. #435-2015-0168).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Alfieri, L., Brooks, P. J., Aldrich, N. J., & Tenenbaum, H. R. (2011). Does discovery-based instruction enhance learning? Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 1–18.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Almulla, M. A. (2015). An investigation of teachers’ perceptions of the effects of class size on teaching. International Education Studies, 8(12), 33–42.  https://doi.org/10.5539/ies.v8n12p33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonawitz, E., Shafto, P., Gweon, H., Goodman, N. D., Spelke, E., & Schulz, L. (2011). The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery. Cognition, 120, 322–330.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2010.10.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohrssen, C., Church, A., & Tayler, C. (2016). Play-based mathematics activities as a resource for changing educator attitudes and practice. SAGE Open, 6(2), 1–14.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244016649010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Doabler, C. T., & Fien, H. (2013). Explicit mathematics instruction: What teachers can do for teaching students with mathematics difficulties. Intervention in School and Clinic, 48(5), 276–285.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1053451212473151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duncan, F. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessent, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanove, P., … Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428–1446.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.43.6.1428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Engelmann, S., Becker, W. C., Carnine, D., & Rhine, R. (1981). The direct instruction model. Encouraging change in America’s schools: A decade of experimentation. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Fisher, K. R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Newcombe, N., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Taking shape: Supporting preschoolers’ acquisition of geometric knowledge though guided play. Child Development, 84(6), 1872–1878.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ginsburg, H. (2006). Playful mathematics and mathematical play: A guide for early education. In D. G. Singer, R. M. Golinkoff, & K. Hirsh-Pasek (Eds.), Play = Learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth (pp. 145–168). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gmitrová, V., Podhajecká, M., & Gmitrov, J. (2009). Children’s play preferences: Implications for the preschool education. Early Child Development and Care, 179(3), 339–351.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430601101883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gopnik, A. (2012). Scientific thinking in young children: Theoretical advances, empirical research, and policy implications. Science, 337(6102), 1623–1627.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1223416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Griffin, S. (2004). Number worlds: A research-based mathematics program for young children. In D. H. Clements, J. Sarama, & A.-M. DiBiase (Eds.), Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education (pp. 325–342). Washington, DC: National Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  13. Hart, C. H., Burts, D. C., Durland, M. A., Charlesworth, R., DeWolf, M., & Fleege, P. O. (1998). Stress behaviors and activity type participation of preschoolers in more and less developmentally appropriate classrooms: SES and sex differences. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 12, 176–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kamii, K., & Housman, L. B. (2000). Young children reinvent arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s theory (2nd ed.). New York: Teacher’s College Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kapur, M. (2010). Productive failure in mathematical problem solving. Instructional Science, 38, 523–550.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-009-9093-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Klahr, D. (2009). “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens”: What about direct instruction? In S. Tobias & T. M. Duffy (Eds.), Constructivist theory applied to instruction: Success or failure? (pp. 291–310). New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  17. Ontario Ministry of Education (OME). (2016). The kindergarten program. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.Google Scholar
  18. Parten, M. B. (1933). Social play among preschool children. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 28(2), 136–147.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0073939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Patton, M. Q. (2014). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (4th ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Pellegrini, A., & Smith, P. (1998). Physical activity play: The nature and function of a neglected aspect of play. Child Development, 69(3), 577–598.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1132187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. London: W. Heinemann.Google Scholar
  22. Presser, A. L., Ginsburg, H., & Ertle, B. (2015). Big math for little kids: The effectiveness of a preschool and kindergarten mathematics curriculum. Early Education and Development, 26, 399–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pyle, A., & Danniels, E. (2017). A continuum of play-based learning: The role of the teacher in play-based pedagogy and the fear of hijacking play. Early Education and Development, 28(3), 274–289.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2016.1220771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pyle, A., Poliszczuk, D., & Danniels, E. (2018). The challenges of promoting literacy integration within a play-based learning kindergarten program: Teacher perspectives and implementation. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 219–233.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2017.1416006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Samara, J., & Clements, D. H. (2009). Building blocks and cognitive building blocks. Playing to know the world mathematically. American Journal of Play, 1, 213–337.Google Scholar
  26. Small, M. (2013). Making math meaningful. Toronto: Nelson.Google Scholar
  27. Stipek, D. (2017). Playful math instruction in the context of standards and accountability. Young Children, 72(3), 8–12.Google Scholar
  28. Stokke, A. (2015). What to do About Canada’s Declining Math Scores. Commentary No. 427. Toronto ON: C. D. Howe Institute. Retrieved from https://www.cdhowe.org/sites/default/files/attachments/research_papers/mixed/commentary_427.pdf.
  29. Tal, C., Fares, E., Azmi, R., & Wabb, W. (2008). Beyond learning and teaching in preschool free-play centers in Daliat el-Carmel-Isfiya. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 281–289.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-008-0285-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Turnbull, J., & Jenvey, V. B. (2006). Criteria used by adults and children to categorize subtypes of play. Early Child Development and Care, 176(5), 539–551.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430500258172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wallerstedt, C., & Pramling, N. (2012). Learning to play in a goal-directed practice. Early Years: An International Research Journal, 32(1), 5–15.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09575146.2011.593028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Guided play: Where curricular goals meet a playful pedagogy. Mind, Brain & Education, 7(2), 104–112.  https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna Wickstrom
    • 1
  • Angela Pyle
    • 2
  • Christopher DeLuca
    • 3
  1. 1.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child StudyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child StudyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of EducationQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

Personalised recommendations