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date: 13 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mathematics instruction for young children should begin early, elaborate on and mathematize children’s everyday mathematics, promote a meaningful integration and synthesis of mathematics knowledge, and advance the development of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and use of effective strategies. The affordances provided by computer programs can be used to further these goals by involving children in activities that are not possible with traditional methods. Drawing on research and theory concerning the development of mathematical cognition, learning, and teaching, high quality mathematics software can provide a productive learning environment with several components: (1) useful instructions and demonstrations, scaffolds, and feedback; (2) mathematical tools (like a device that groups objects into tens); and (3) virtual objects, manipulatives and mathematical representations. We propose a five-stage iterative research and development process consisting of (1) coherent design; (2) formative research; (3) revision; (4) learning studies; and (5) summative research. A case study of MathemAntics, software for children ranging from age 3 to grade 3, illustrates the research and development process. The chapter concludes with implications for early childhood educators, software designers, and researchers.

Keywords: mathematics, early childhood education, technology, research methods, mathematics software design, virtual manipulatives

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