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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
September 22, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Mathematics



 Early Mathematics Learning         

                “Can exposure to mathematics language in their environment facilitate the acquisition of mathematical concepts by children younger than three years old?” This research project investigates whether the total amount of mathematically relevant input by parents in their speech (e.g., “You need two puzzle pieces”) during the early years is related to an earlier acquisition of the meanings of the number words. The overarching goal is to understand how and why some children become good at mathematics whereas others fail to do so.

               The mechanism of early mathematics learning across developmental language stages (one-word, two-word or short sentence stages) as well as on how language characteristics and child gender may influence the adult math-related input, which in turn, affects the acquisition process of number knowledge are examined. This research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). 

 

Students’ Mathematical Thinking using Video Diaries  

          This research project investigates eight-grade students’ ability to independently make sense of mathematics encountered in school, while completing homework in their own settings, after a lapse in time from the initial classroom learning experience (i.e., that evening or the next evening). The questions guiding this research are: (1) How do students know when to assign a particular meaning over another to a mathematical object? (2) What are the linguistic cues and pedagogical practices that influence conceptual mapping of mathematics? (3) How can this knowledge inform teaching of mathematics? This research is also funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

 

Using sports programs to teach arithmetic

            This project examines the types of televised sports programs third-grade students watch at home as sports vary in terms of incremental changes in scores (e.g., basketball vs. soccer) as well as the priming effect from watching sports programs with frequent incremental changes in score on mathematical ability in addition and subtraction. Our findings will shed some light on the critical content of televised sports programs to teach mathematical concepts.       

 

Gender differences in perceived mathematical competence

            The gender differences in perception of children’s mathematical ability have been reported to begin as early as first grade. This study seeks to examine whether such gender differences begin before children enter formal schooling. It also represents findings that pertain to our Canadian context as most studies were conducted in the United States.           

Using picture cards and counting tasks, the actual and perceived mathematical competence of preschoolers and kindergartners can be ascertained. Teacher and parent’s perception of the child’s mathematical competence will also be included. Our findings seek to understand the factors (such as parental stereotypic gender-role beliefs) affecting this disparate gap in terms of the perception of girls’ and boys’ mathematical ability. It is crucial to eliminate this disparity by promoting ways to shatter the gender stereotypical belief that boys are better at mathematics than girls. By doing so, children can be encouraged to engage more in activities/areas that they doubt their abilities in.