AuthorADEY, KYM LLEWELLYN.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation sought to explore dimensions of preschooler conceptual awareness of the principles of counting. The study derived its focus from the research of Rochel Gelman and, in particular, the principles of counting she purports are implicitly understood by young children. Their frequent inability to manifest this awareness in their counting performances is explained as resulting from their susceptibility to task demands. This study explores this position by seeking to facilitate performance in order that conceptual understanding might be more apparent. The sample for this study consisted of 40 children (20 aged 3 years 3 months-3 years 9 months; 20 aged 4 years 3 months-4 years 9 months) selected randomly from a cross section of preschool and day-care centers in Adelaide, South Australia. Phase 1 of the study explored the impact of a procedure which allowed for children to receive both visual and tactile feedback on their counting behavior on array sizes ranging from 2 to 19. The results show conclusively that this self-monitoring technique significantly improved counting performances for both age groups. In doing so it lends support to the Gelman hypothesis that conceptual awareness of the 'how-to' count principles can be masked by task demands. Phase 2 of the study looked at the complex 'order-irrelevance' principle. The results suggest that preschoolers understand that items can be counted in any order before they appreciate that this has no impact on cardinal value. The extreme susceptibility of preschoolers to variations in task demands necessitates further exploration of design and analysis parameters.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration