Reconceptualizing Early Mathematics Learning

Part of the series Advances in Mathematics Education pp 47-66

Reconceptualizing Early Mathematics Learning: The Fundamental Role of Pattern and Structure

  • Joanne T. MulliganAffiliated withMacquarie University Email author 
  • , Michael C. MitchelmoreAffiliated withMacquarie University
  • , Lyn D. EnglishAffiliated withQueensland University of Technology
  • , Nathan CrevenstenAffiliated withQueensland University of Technology

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The Pattern and Structure Mathematics Awareness Program (PASMAP) was developed concurrently with the studies of AMPS and the development of the Pattern and Structure Assessment (PASA) interview. We summarize some early classroom-based teaching studies and describe the PASMAP that resulted. A large-scale two-year longitudinal study, Reconceptualizing Early Mathematics Learning (REML) resulted. We provide an overview of the REML study and discuss the consequences for our view of early mathematics learning.

A purposive sample of four large primary schools, two in Sydney and two in Brisbane, representing 316 students from diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts, participated in an evaluation of the PASMAP intervention throughout the 2009 school year and a follow-up assessment in 2010. Two different mathematics programs were implemented: in each school, two Kindergarten teachers implemented the PASMAP and another two implemented their regular program. The study shows that both groups of students made substantial gains on the ‘I Can Do Maths’ standardized assessment and the PASA interview, but highly significant differences were found on the latter with PASMAP students outperforming the regular group on PASA scores. Qualitative analysis of students’ responses for structural development showed increased levels for the PASMAP students. Implications for pedagogy and curriculum are discussed.


Early childhood Mathematics Pre-algebra Patterns Structure Relationships Structural development Spatial structuring Awareness of mathematical pattern and structure (AMPS)