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Preschool children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics

Maja Šuštaršič (2020) Preschool children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics. MSc thesis.

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    Abstract

    Long-term and pronounced mathematical learning difficulties can bring many obstacles into our lives. Individuals who fail to cope with them are often more difficult to employ as a result of poor mathematical literacy and associated secondary disorders. As adults, they have lower income and poorer quality of life. Two important measures in this field are early risk identification of developing mathematical learning difficulties and provision of immediate effective support. In this master's thesis, I present the complexity and diversity of mathematical learning difficulties, as well as highlight the importance of early identification and intervention for at-risk children. To do so, I examined research findings on various risk signs and factors. By focusing on the preschool period, I introduce the kindergarten context, approaches and tools for early identification used with preschool children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics and the concept of early intervention. I describe a multi-level intervention model “response to intervention” as an approach to finding effective system-wide solutions. The main purpose of the survey was to identify key conditions, obstacles and factors in the work of preschool educators for successful and effective early identification and intervention for children at risk for mathematical learning difficulties in kindergarten. In addition, I wanted to establish what the preschool educators need to do to improve this process. I was interested in what risk signs for developing mathematical learning difficulties preschool educators observed, whether and how they intervened upon detecting them and what they might need for more successful identification and intervention. The survey involved 92 preschool educators from different Slovenian kindergartens who had work experience with children from the second age group. By using the Mann-Whitney test and partly the t-test, I explored the effects of service length, experience with children with special needs in mathematics, the popularity of mathematics, as well as the influence of different attitudes towards one’s own role in the process of early identification on the number of different observed risk signs for developing mathematical learning difficulties. With the χ2 test, I examined the differences in their intervention upon discovering risk signs. The results show that preschool educators most frequently observed risk signs associated with memorising time sequences and learning counting skills. The vast majority of preschool educators intervened upon discovering risk signs. Their observation of risk signs and the manner of their intervention were primarily influenced by their experiences. On average, preschool educators with more work experience and more experience with children with special needs who had the most pronounced difficulties in mathematics noticed more different risk signs than preschool educators with less work experience and less experience with mathematical special needs. Moreover, the two groups of preschool educators differed in the way they intervened upon discovering risk signs. However, as regards the popularity of mathematics and the attitude towards their own role in the process of early identification, no differences were registered between the two groups of preschool educators. In order to be more successful in identifying and helping children at risk more effectively, preschool educators would, in particular, need better organisational conditions, more specific knowledge on early mathematical skills, as well as a concrete model of support and assistance to rely on. Based on these results and the data from the theoretical part of the thesis, I designed a multi-level intervention model for children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics, which could be introduced into the Slovenian education system, as it represents a way to promote acquiring early mathematical skills and knowledge for all children in kindergarten.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: learning difficulties in mathematics, early identification and intervention, children at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics, preschool period, a multi-level intervention model
    Number of Pages: 138
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Marija KavklerMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/12809545
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 6177
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2020 09:29
    Last Modified: 26 Feb 2020 09:29
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/6177

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