Prekindergarten teachers' beliefs and attitudes toward children's mathematics and learning trajectories
Mathematics education for young children provides opportunities to develop acquisition of mathematical concepts throughout exploration. Children who develop strong mathematics tend to be more successful in later grades.
The purpose of this descriptive quantitative research study was to examine prekindergarten teachers’ knowledge about children’s mathematical development in numbers and operations, teachers’ beliefs with regard to mathematics teaching and learning in preschool classrooms, and teachers’ anxiety levels with regard to mathematics. An online survey was completed by 109 prekindergarten teachers employed in a large urban school district in Texas. Instruments utilized in this study included a Demographic Survey, Knowledge of Mathematical Development (KMD) (Platas, 2008), Mathematical Development Beliefs Survey (MDBS) (Platas, 2015), and the Mathematics Anxiety Scale-Revised (MAS-R) (Bai, 2011).
Findings from the KMD indicated that the majority of prekindergarten teachers correctly identified the order in which young children learn mathematical concepts. However, only 18.5% of teachers correctly responded to the item describing one-to-one correspondence. The results of the MDBS indicated that teachers supported the teaching of mathematics in prekindergarten classroom, favored more child-centered classrooms, believed that early mathematics instruction benefited children, and expressed confidence in teaching mathematics. Prekindergarten teachers reported high positive attitudes and low negative attitudes toward mathematics, as measured by the MAS-R. Multiple regression analysis identified the significant predictors of KMD scores as the Positive Affect scores in MAS-R and Mathematical Development as a Primary Goal in MBDS.
The results of this research study have implications for professional development presenters, early childhood administrators, early childhood specialists, and early childhood education policy makers. Focusing on the critical importance of on-going professional development for prekindergarten teachers are some recommendations. Other recommendations concern the learning trajectories in mathematics of young children and methods for integrating mathematical concepts in daily routines and other content areas across the curriculum.