College of Education Researchers Hope to Create Set of Shared Teaching and Learning Principles for Early Mathematics Education through National Conference


A group of NC State College of Education scholars are bringing together experts in early mathematics education and other related fields to generate a set of teaching and learning principles related to PreK-2 mathematics education. 

Funded by a $673,241 grant from the National Science Foundation, the Conversations Across Boundaries: Bringing PreK-2 Mathematics Experts Together project— led by Dean Paola Sztajn, Associate Dean Karen Hollebrands, Associate Professors Jessica Hunt and Temple Walkowiak, and Professor Jessica Jameson with the NC State College of Humanities and Social Sciences— will begin with meetings on Nov. 28 and 29 at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. 

Experts in mathematics education, cognitive science and special education from more than a dozen higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations and industry partners will discuss common goals, including a set of shared mathematics instructional principles and a collaborative research agenda across fields. 

“Researchers across disciplines agree about the importance of early mathematics learning, but have different ideas about which mathematical concepts, skills and processes should be taught.  We think that opportunities exist for new insights and collaborations between fields of expertise and can be found when perspectives from different communities of practice productively converge,” the group said in a shared statement. 

During this national conference, North Carolina-based math experts from school districts, universities, nonprofit organizations and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction will have an opportunity to meet and, through a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, will have an opportunity to convene and engage in conversation to support PreK-2 mathematics teaching and learning in the state. 

“The North Carolina gathering will have a more practice-focused perspective and we believe this is a key convening for those working in early mathematics initiatives across the state,” Walkowiak said. “In particular, we would like to create a shared vision for action across the state. We hope this collective effort will build collaborations and help those who work in math education across North Carolina to develop a plan for collective impact on early math practices in our state.”

Both the national and state-level meetings will focus specifically on mathematics education on PreK-2, Hunt said, because these grades are often crucial in setting students up for success in mathematics learning for the rest of their educational career.

“I think that young children bring a wealth of informal mathematical knowledge to school. At the same time, differences in mathematics achievement often become evident before kindergarten and are often linked to educational opportunities children have in and outside of schools,” Hunt said. “So, it seemed essential to ground conversations about mathematics teaching and learning principles in the PreK-2 space.” 


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