Mathematics beliefs and teaching practices of preschool teachers
Black, Kristine L.
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The purpose of this study was to examine preschool teachers' beliefs about teaching mathematics to preschool students and how teachers help preschool students acquire math skills and knowledge in the classroom. The research was conducted in two parts: focus groups and classroom observations. The focus groups occurred over two sessions. The sessions focused on building a sense of teachers' beliefs about which mathematics skills should be taught to preschool children and which teaching strategies, if any, were currently used to teach the skills. The researcher recorded the focus groups and transcribed them. Coding was done to identify themes. The second part of the research involved observation in two preschool classrooms. Two teachers from the focus groups volunteered to have the researcher observe their classrooms. A case study methodology was used for the classroom observations. The researcher observed three sessions of one teacher and two of the second teacher. The researcher completed field notes of the observations; took photographs of materials, activities, and the environment; and collected artifacts such as lesson plans. Individual interviews with participants were conducted after the observations to review what the researcher observed. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. Field notes and interviews were coded as they occurred. The researcher established four major themes based on results. First, participants had varying experiences which influenced their confidence as a teacher and beliefs about effective teaching. Second, participants had an understanding about which mathematics skills preschool children should learn. Third, participants used a variety of strategies to teach mathematics to students. Finally, participants planned for instruction in a similar manner as each other.