Background of the research
The current study focuses on COPING TO MATHS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD. The phobia of maths in children have been often talked and discussed about. For the present study we have taken into consideration the children belonging to the age group of 3-8 years. The study further discusses regarding the different myths regarding mathematics present in the society which makes children react to it differently. As commented by Parker-Rees and Leeson (2015), mathematics is seen as a way of thinking, seeing and organising the world. It has been reported that every child has the ability to solve mathematical problems, making sense of the world using maths and communicate mathematically. However, phobia or myths regarding maths can affect their response to the subject. The differences are often created from the way they maths education is imparted at the preliminary level. The importance of maths should be discussed in a stress free and positive manner at home. As argued by McLeod et al. (2017), levying hyper importance to the subject can often develop additional pressure and burden upon the children to perform better. In this respect, great expectations are associated with learning maths. To give an example, children who learn maths well are supposed to shine bright in terms of their future career prospects by engaging in technical courses such as architecture, engineering and designing. These courses are expected to provide them with better placement opportunities in multinational companies which pay well. On the contrary, the ones who do not show interest in learning maths are often given wrong predicaments regarding their future success. The goal should be to develop a uniform liking for the subject by applying critical thinking. The figures and the stats are alarming which states that as many as 2 million children suffer from maths phobia worldwide (Parker-Rees and Leeson 2015). As commented by Batchelor et al. (2017), the maths anxiety can slow the thinking capacity of children and they might find themselves fidgeting for the right answers. Additionally, the lack of proper resources along with large class sizes and time constraints can make mathematics learning difficult for the students. It has been seen that the children responded much positively to their maths classes when the teaching was imparted through interesting curriculum such as puzzles and games (Wolk et al. 2017). On the other hand, following a strictly traditional approach can develop false fear and anxiety in the minds of the children.
It has been seen that confident and proactive teachers have been seen to create much positive effect in the minds of the children (Abiola and Olaleru 2015). In such cases the children have reportedly felt like going to their maths classes time and again. However as supported by Graefen et al.(2015), a clumsy and not –so –comfortable attitude while teaching maths to children in the classroom have been seen to develop fear and anxiety in the minds of the children.
In this respect, two different perspectives could be highlighted which are the cognitive and the socio-cultural perspective. The cognitive perspectives are helpful in focussing on individual learners,whereas the socio-cultural perspectives are appropriate when focusing on pedagogy. The educators therefore need to find a balance between formative and summative assessment in maths learning at the elementary level (Geist 2015). As mentioned by Rozenman et al. (2017), too much of test taking can aggravate the phobia within the children.
In the current study the research will employ an interpretivist research paradigm. It will help the researcher collect data through quantifiable observations. This will help the researcher in arriving at statistically significant results. The interpretivist approach will help the researcher in aligning the human subjects well into the study. The interpretivist approach places more importance on the collection of data through qualitative means. The researcher will employ multiple methods in order to focus upon different aspects of the issue. The researcher with the help of interpretivist paradigm will group together the diverse observations and data, which will further help the researcher on addressing the gaps within the research.
The researcher will further employ an experimental study design as it will in understanding the emotional aspects of the subjects included within the research process. Through the experimental study design the researcher alters one variable to measure the changes produces in the other variable. As commented by Taylor et al. ( 2015), the experimental research study will be used by the researcher where the cause precedes the effect, a cause always leads to the same effect. In other words the researcher will use it where the correlation between the cause and the effect is great. Here, the subjects will be made into focus groups and the observations through the experiments conducted will be noted down by the researcher which will help him in arriving at distinct results.
The researcher will use qualitative methods of data collection where he will be dividing his subjects in focus groups. The researcher will select children within the age group of 3-8 years and ask them questions pertaining to elementary level of maths. The children will be divided into two groups by the researcher. One group will be 3-5 years old; the other will be 6-8 years old. The children will be called for over two rounds, which will help the researcher compare their responses under individual scenarios.
There are a number of benefits of using qualitative data as it will allow the researcher to conduct the experiment within the natural setting. The qualitative research design will allow the researcher to gain an insight into the thought process of the participants of the research process. As commented by Lewis (2015), the qualitative data collection method encourages the participants to engage in the process of data collection. The researcher should have a well made plan to conduct a detailed analysis from the observations. It will help the researcher in understanding the complexity of the interpretations of the participants of the research process.
The objectives of the research will be further used by the researcher in drafting of the research question. The researcher aims to find out the methods for coping with maths related stress in early childhood. The objectives of the research have been written below as follows which will be further formatted into the research questions by the researcher.
- To critically analyse the maths related phobia in the children at the primary level
- To understand the effect of phobia of maths on the overall academic performance of the children
- To critically understand the contribution of the teaching methods in the reduction of mathematics phobia in the children
- What causes maths related phobia in the children at the primary level?
- How does the phobia of maths affect the overall academic performance of the children?
- How does the teaching method contribute in the reduction of phobia of maths in the children?
Design of the research
The designing of the research is a crucial component in the research methodology. The researcher will interview the children within their own school set up for which permission will be taken on an advance basis by the researcher. Since the researcher will be interviewing small children, hence interviewing them within their own preferred environment will help in reducing the anxiety. As commented by Brinkmann (2014), the place of interview often has a significant impact on the minds of the participants of the interview process. Additionally, conducting the test in the presence of the teachers and parents would help in gaining the trust of the small children. The researcher will further like to conduct the activity in the playhouse area of the school. This will help in making the children develop interest in the activities. As commented by Jamshed (2014), colours can have positive impact upon the mood and learning capacity of the children. Additionally the researcher will need to ensure that the children are made a part of the interview process in the presence of their parents. This is in the ethical interest of the qualitative research study design.
The researcher will divide the focus group into young toddlers and toddlers. The researcher will select the children of the elementary education group. This is because based upon the myths and concepts which are feeded into the minds of the children at the very primary level their reaction to subjects are supposed to be developed. The focus group will be further divided into two age groups that are 3-5 and 6-8. The responses of the children to maths related activities will be judged in a playful environment with the help of puzzles and quizzes. The similar experiment will be repeated with the children in a traditional manner, where the children will be simply asked to solve some plain maths questions on a white board. The difference in the interest level will help the researcher in understanding the impact proactive teaching can have on the learning levels of the children. Additionally, the researcher will also study the impact of environment upon the learning activities of the children.
The researcher will use qualitative methods of data collection as it will help the researcher in analysing the insights of the children in reacting in a particular manner to maths problem at the elementary level. Here, an experimental approach will be used by the researcher in understanding the dilemma faced by the children. As they are small children conducting a survey with them might result in erroneous results. Additionally, the researcher will use colourful cue cards over here for conducting the test with the children. This will help the children focus as well as take interest within the activities. Additionally, the use of open-ended questionnaire will help the researcher go beyond the scope of answering simple mathematical questions (Flick 2015). This will also help the researcher in analysing the critical thinking process of the child.
Ethics planning of the research
Ethical policies form a very important part of a research project. Therefore, one must abide by the ethical rules and regulations for conducting a research. As mentioned by Merriam and Tisdell (2015), consent taking forms a very important part of a research project. Since the subjects involved in the process of data collection are small children. Therefore, the researcher will get approval from the parents of the children in written from before including them in the data collection process. The intimation regarding the interview could be sent by the researcher via e-mails to the parents of the parents of the children. Additionally, they could be equally notified regarding the process using the school notice boards. The approval of the school also needs to be taken for the data collection procedure. Hence, the researcher needs to present his agenda with a clear outline infront of the school board. As commented by Greenfield (2016), the rate of participation of the teachers and the parents of the children are crucial in determining the success of the process. The researcher will also give in writing to the school and the parents of the children that no child will be forced to become a part of the experimental activity. Additionally, the children will be free to leave the interview process at any point of time. The researcher will also ensure that the children are accompanied by their parents during the data collection process. This will help in making the children comfortable during the conduct of the interview.
The researcher need to ensure that the data collected is reliable and valid. Hence the researcher will be using audio tapes where he will be recording the extended reply of the children on the mathematical questions. This will be referred to by the researcher later in the course of the findings. The research will use the audio transcripts from the interview for the grouping of similar and dissimilar data. The similar data will be used by the researcher for making effective themes, which will further help the researcher in arriving at an effective result (Pimple 2017). This will further help the researcher in taking care of all the relevant and important details as missing out on the important credentials can hamper the quality of the research.
In order to ensure that the research is of good quality the researcher needs to collate the data collected by him to secondary research journals and findings. It will help him in enriching the quality of the research as well as expanding upon the gaps of the interview process. Additionally, the researcher will match the data from responses of similar interview process which will help in arriving at similar patterns and results.
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