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- Revealing what urban early childhood teachers think about mathematics and how they teach it: Implications for practice
- Hersh (1986) states, "One's conception of what mathematics is affects one's conception of how it should be presented. One's manner of presenting it is an indication of what one believes to be most essential in it." In this research study, three hundred ninety-seven urban early childhood teachers were given a survey that examined their attitudes toward mathematics and mathematics teaching, their views of mathematics, views of teaching mathematics, and views of children learning mathematics. The purpose of this study was to identify the attitudes and beliefs of early childhood teachers in two urban school districts to determine if mathematics reform efforts made a difference in teachers' attitudes and beliefs about mathematics and its teaching. Questionnaires were mailed directly to teachers in one school district and principals distributed questionnaires in the other. Summary scores were calculated for parts of the instrument. The researcher performed descriptive statistics, comparative analysis, and conducted frequency distributions, t-tests, ANOVA, and Pearson Correlations. Findings revealed that teachers with 30 or more years of teaching experience had more positive attitudes toward mathematics than teachers with 1-3 years of experience. African American teachers had more positive attitudes toward mathematics and its teaching than other ethnic groups. Teachers who held a minor or major in mathematics had more positive attitudes toward mathematics and its teaching than teachers without a minor or major in mathematics. Teachers in District-A favored constructivist learning while teachers in District-B favored rote learning. Both school districts' teachers favored the problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics. If instruction is to be transformed, reformers need to understand teachers' beliefs about mathematics. Beliefs, which are essential for teachers' development, seldom change without significant intervention (Lappan and Theule-Lubienski, 1994). Therefore, school districts must be informed about the changes necessary for the reform of mathematics teaching and identify and implement through staff developments and other measures what they perceive mathematics to be and how it should be taught.