CAREER: Mechanisms Underlying the Relation Between Mathematical Language and Mathematical Knowledge

The purpose of this project is to examine the process by which math language instruction improves learning of mathematics skills in order to design and translate the most effective interventions into practical classroom instruction.

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Award Number: 
1749294
Funding Period: 
Wednesday, August 1, 2018 to Monday, July 31, 2023
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Full Description: 

Successful development of numeracy and geometry skills during preschool provides a strong foundation for later academic and career success. Recent evidence shows that learning math language (e.g., concepts such as more, few, less, near, before) during preschool supports this development. The purpose of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) project is to examine the process by which math language instruction improves learning of mathematics skills in order to design and translate the most effective interventions into practical classroom instruction. The first objective of this project is to examine if quantitative and spatial math language effect the development of different aspects of mathematics performance (e.g., numeracy, geometry). The second objective is to examine how quantitative math language versus numeracy instruction, either alone or in combination, effect numeracy development. The findings from this study will not only be used to improve theoretical understanding of how math language and mathematics skills develop, but the instructional materials developed for this study will also result in practical tools for enhancing young children's math language and mathematics skills.

This project is focused on evaluating the role of early math language skills in the acquisition of early mathematics skills. Two randomized control trials (RCTs) will be conducted. The first RCT will be used to evaluate the effects of different types of math language instruction (quantitative, spatial) on distinct aspects of mathematics (numeracy, geometry). It is expected that quantitative language instruction will improve numeracy skills and spatial language instruction will improve geometry skills. The second RCT will be used to examine the unique and joint effects of quantitative language instruction and numeracy instruction on children's numeracy skills. It is expected that both types of instruction alone will be sufficient to generate improvement on numeracy outcomes compared to an active control group, but that the combination of the two will result in enhanced numeracy performance compared to either alone. Educational goals will be integrated with and supported through engaging diverse groups of undergraduate and graduate students in hands-on research experiences, training pre- and in-service teachers on mathematical language instruction, and building collaborative relationships with early career researchers. Intervention materials including storybooks developed for the project and pre- and in-service teacher training/lesson plan materials will be made available at the completion of the project.

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