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Similarities and Differences of Kindergarten Teachers’ Beliefs, Knowledge and Self-reported Early Mathematics Education Activities in Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland

Though the importance of early childhood education is more and more recognized in the last decade, early mathematics education is still a young field in research and practice in different countries. There are obviously significant differences between conceptions and contents of kindergarten teachers’ pre-service education in different countries and it can be assumed that kindergarten teachers’ beliefs and knowledge about early mathematics education differ in particular concerning their cultural and societal background, their own experiences with mathematics and their pre-service education.

By contrasting kindergarten teachers’ beliefs and knowledge concerning early mathematics education in Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland, we assume to get insight into these culturally shaped individual personal characteristics and relations to content related activities and offered learning opportunities. Cultural values and societal conditions are similar in Germany and Switzerland, but these two countries differ in pre-service education of kindergarten teachers (university versus vocational school) and institutional frame conditions (kindergarten as a part/non part of the compulsory educational school system). Therefore, it is of particular interest to design an abductive-comparative study between these two countries and Taiwan to identify possible explanations for differences.

 

Research Goals

The main goal is to get an insight into similarities and differences of kindergarten teachers’ beliefs, knowledge and content related activities concerning early mathematics education due to different cultural and societal conditions and due to different institutional frame conditions.

 

Goal 1: Analysing frame conditions of early mathematics education in the three countries

As a starting point for any further research comparing early mathematics education an analysis of early mathematics education and the structural and institutional background in the three countries is necessary – especially in early childhood education policy (official requirements, national curriculum, content standards) and institutional frame conditions (e.g. How old are children in kindergarten, how much time do they spend in kindergarten, are they together with children at the same age or is kindergarten organized in age-mixed groups?).

 

Goal 2: Examining beliefs, skills, knowledge and self-reported planned and worked out activities in early mathematics education in Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan

Teacher education and frame conditions are factors which might influence children’s early mathematical learning. On the other hand, individual person variables and cultural-societal factors of teachers have an influence to their content related activities in the classroom. Therefore, we will collect data about the pre-service education the questioned kindergarten teachers got, about their beliefs, about their skills and knowledge, about used materials for mathematics education and about kindergarten teachers self-reported planned and worked out activities in early mathematics education with a questionnaire. The data will be analysed to get an insight in individual variables and dispositions of kindergarten teachers in the three different countries and to contribute to an explanation of differences in children’s mathematical performance in the three countries.

 

Hedwig Gasteiger (Osnabrück University, Germany)

Ching-Shu Chen (Tainan University of Technology, Teacher Education, Taiwan)

Esther Brunner (Thurgau University of Teacher Education, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland)

 

Publications

Gasteiger, H., Brunner, E., & Chen, C.-S. (in press). Frühe mathematische Bildung in Deutschland, Taiwan und der Schweiz - ein Vergleich der Ausgangslagen. Beiträge zum Mathematikunterricht 2018. Münster: WTM-Verlag 

Gasteiger, H., Brunner, E., & Chen, C.-S. (2017). Early mathematics education – a comparison between Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland. In B. Kaur, W. K. Ho, T. L. Toh, & B. H. Choy (Hrsg.), Proceedings of the 41st Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Vol. 1, p. 196). PME.