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Developing ‘deep mathematical thinking’ in geometry with 3- and 4-year-olds: A collaborative study between early years teachers and University-based mathematicians

Oughton, Rachel; Nichols, Kathryn; Bolden, David S.; Dixon-Jones, Sarah; Fearn, Sam; Darwin, Sophia; Mistry, Mrita; Peyerimhoff, Norbert; Townsend, Adam

Developing ‘deep mathematical thinking’ in geometry with 3- and 4-year-olds: A collaborative study between early years teachers and University-based mathematicians Thumbnail


Authors

Kathryn Nichols

Sarah Dixon-Jones

Mrita Mistry



Abstract

Mathematics in early years settings is often restricted to learning to count and identifying simple shapes. This is partly due to the narrow scope of many early years curricula and insufficient teacher training for exploring deeper mathematical concepts. We note that geometry is an area particularly neglected. In an innovative year-long project, a group of university-based mathematicians and early years teachers collaborated on a child-led exploration of ‘patterns in nature.’ The early years teachers ran the project within the setting, meeting regularly with the mathematicians to discuss potential areas of interest, and to highlight the children’s mathematical thinking. We found that, with the appropriate environment and guidance, the children naturally displayed deep levels of geometrical thinking and found enjoyment and satisfaction in the exploration of mathematical ideas. We define what we mean by the term ‘deep geometrical thinking’ and demonstrate this by looking at three excerpts through the lens of the van Hiele levels of geometric thought, finding that the children are capable of exhibiting thought at level 3 (abstraction), more advanced than previously thought of children of this age. Using a second taxonomy we also assess the range of skills across which they are demonstrating such geometric thought.

Citation

Oughton, R., Nichols, K., Bolden, D. S., Dixon-Jones, S., Fearn, S., Darwin, S., …Townsend, A. (2022). Developing ‘deep mathematical thinking’ in geometry with 3- and 4-year-olds: A collaborative study between early years teachers and University-based mathematicians. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, https://doi.org/10.1080/10986065.2022.2119497

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 27, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2022
Publication Date Sep 6, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 27, 2022
Journal Mathematical Thinking and Learning
Print ISSN 1098-6065
Electronic ISSN 1532-7833
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/10986065.2022.2119497
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1193553

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