My previous role as a member of Fife Council’s Pedagogy Team included improving outcomes for children in Numeracy. Our focus was to promote conceptual understanding, using a range of teaching approaches, and support teachers in using diagnostic assessments to inform next steps in learning. We devised baseline diagnostic assessments for P1, P3, P5, P7 and S2, which were taken or adapted from First Steps in Mathematics: Number (Department of Education and Training WA, 2013), Developing Number Knowledge (Wright et al., 2012) and the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s Numeracy Professional Development Projects (2008).
The assessments were given to approximately 175 children in each targeted year group across Fife. Common themes emerged which confirmed key messages from our own numeracy training. Our findings were shared with teachers across Fife through bespoke professional learning, which not only raised awareness of the misconceptions we
were observing but also how these might have been avoided. Misconceptions are a natural part of a child’s numeracy development (Hansen, 2005) and an awareness of which of them may occur at particular developmental stages allows teachers to plan appropriately to take account of them. Interestingly, many of our findings mirrored those of other international researchers.
The following is a summary of recurring themes which emerged at Primary 3 and Primary 5. (It is possible that themes arising from P7 and S2 baseline assessments will be looked at in a later issue.)