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NSF Grant Will Study How Kids Learn Math


The National Science Foundation recently awarded $2.3 million to a consortium led by Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) to develop tools to help prospective early childhood mathematics teachers better understand how children think mathematically. The program, Video Interactions for Teaching and Learning: A Learning Environment for Courses in Early Mathematics Education, is also sponsored by Teachers College and William Patterson University.

Frank Moretti, principal investigator and executive director at CCNMTL, and Herbert Ginsburg, the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, will lead teams that will develop a curriculum, a digital library, and an online community workspace. The digital library will store primary source material that includes video cases and expert and scholarly commentary.

Studies show that children employ mathematical ideas and methods that were developed early in their formal education. By analyzing videos of clinical interviews and classroom interactions, pre-service teachers gain a better understanding of how children employ mathematical ideas. Researchers anticipate that this will improve teachers' performance.

"At a time when there is less support for supervision and mentoring of teachers in the schools themselves, universities have a greater responsibility to insure that abstract theory and training in practical judgment are both part of a teacher's preparation," Moretti said. "VITAL merges the two in a unique online environment, so that teachers of early childhood mathematics not only learn what is known in the field but also develop the skill to recognize the creative mathematical intelligence all children have as their natural endowment."

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Published: Oct 25, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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