A study of pre-kindergarten teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching

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Lee, Jae Eun

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This dissertation investigates the ways in which pre-k teachers understood the math content that they were to teach and their math instruction. To investigate this, a qualitative case study examining five pre-k teachers was conducted. Data sources included observation field notes, teacher interviews, and documents such as state and district pre-k guidelines. The findings from this dissertation suggest that pre-k teachers’ knowledge entails both knowledge of subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge. In addition, this study identified what these pre-k teachers knew about math and teaching/learning math as well as what they still needed to know to provide high quality and effective math instruction. Chapter 1 introduces my research question and important terms, such as mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT). Chapter 2 synthesizes relevant literature in the area of effective math instruction, theoretical framework of teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching and early mathematics education. The literature review seeks to highlight the importance of early childhood teachers’ deep understanding of mathematical content and of their math instruction. Chapter 3 forwards the specific conceptual framework for this study while detailing the methodology that guided this investigation including data gathering and analysis. Chapter 4 presents the findings from this research. It examines pre-k teachers’ understanding of mathematical content that they are to teach and their knowledge of how to teach mathematics. Chapter 5 addresses the significance of these two major findings. First, I discuss the four types of mathematical knowledge and skills that these pre-k teachers possess. I also compare and contrast them with the teacher knowledge examined in the literature. Then, by examining research literature on early math education, I suggest what mathematical knowledge and skills they still need to attain to offer high-quality and effective math instruction. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of implication for teachers, teacher educators, and suggestions for future research.



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