Biennial EARLI SIG 5 Conference “Learning and Development in Early Childhood” edition:3 location:Jyväskylä, Finland date:25-27 August 2014
This longitudinal study aimed at exploring the development of Ecuadorian Kindergartners’ spontaneous focusing on numerosity (SFON) during the Kindergarten year, in relation to the development of their early mathematical skills. What is novel in respect to previous studies on SFON is that, we investigated the relation between SFON and early mathematical competencies and (a) school type and (b) quality of the early mathematics education environment.
Participants were 179 5-year-old Ecuadorian Kindergartners from three different types of schools (6 classes per school type): private (n = 60), public urban (n = 60) and public rural (n = 62). At the beginning and at the end of the school year, children received 2 tasks: (a) the Imitation SFON task (Hannula & Lehtinen, 2005; Hannula, Mattinen & Lehtinen, 2005), involving four items, each with numerosities ranging from 1 to 3; and (b) a self-developed early mathematical achievement test (TENA), consisting of 54 items, fitted to the Ecuadorian Kindergarten’s national standards for number and arithmetic. All children were first administered the SFON task and next the TENA. The quality of children’s education was assessed twice via the Classroom Observation of Early Mathematics Environment and Teaching instrument (COEMET; Sarama & Clements, 2009), once in the sixth and once in the ninth month of the Kindergarten year.
The research questions were: (1a) what are Ecuadorian Kindergartners´ SFON competencies at the start and the end of the Kindergarten year?; (1b) do children´s SFON competencies at the start and at the end of Kindergarten vary between different school types?; (2a) is there a relation between Kindergartners’ SFON at the start and the end of the Kindergarten year?; (2b) do we observe any differences in the relation between children´s SFON at the start and the end of the Kindergarten year among different school types?; (3a) is there a relation between children´s SFON and their early mathematical skills at the start and at the end of the school year?; (3b) do we observe differences in that relation between the different school types?; (4a) to what extent are children’s SFON competencies at the end of the school year related to the quality of the early mathematics education they received?; and, (4b) does this relation differ between the different school types?
Results indicated a poor SFON tendency of Ecuadorian Kindergartners both at the start and at the end of the school year (1a). Correlation analysis showed stability in SFON tendency between the start and the end of the Kindergarten year (2a) as well as an association between SFON and children´s early mathematics skills at both measurement times (3a). Furthermore, regression analyses demonstrated that children´s SFON tendency at the start of the Kindergarten year predicted their mathematical skills at the end of the year (3a). Results also indicated that the quality of children´s mathematics education was predictively related to Kindergartners´ SFON tendency at the end of the school year (4a). With respect to the influence of school type, results indicated that (a) there were no differences between school types in SFON tendency at the start of the Kindergarten year; but we did observe differences at the end of the year; children attending private schools outperformed their peers attending public urban and public rural schools in their SFON tendency; children going to public rural schools obtained the lower results at the end of the school year (1b); (b) there was a significant association between SFON at the start and at the end of the school year in children attending private and public rural schools, but not in children receiving education in public urban schools (2b); (c) there was a significant relation between Kindergartners´ SFON and their early mathematical skills at both the start and the end of the Kindergarten year for children attending private schools; however, for children attending public urban and public rural schools a significant association was found only at the end of the school year (3b); and, (d) the quality of mathematics education in all the schools was rather low; moreover, we observed no differences in the quality of mathematics education among the three school types.