The Shape of Research: Geometry Down Under
Extending Local Research Through Study Abroad
What do Australian kindergartners know and understand about geometric concepts? Under the direction of SOE faculty Betty Ruth Baker, Trena Wilkerson, and Pat Tipton Sharp, undergraduate teacher education candidates extended a study originally implemented at Hillcrest Professional Development School and Parkdale Elementary.
Education interns Jordan Sandefur, Allison Macari, Julie Leary and Kimber Fowler conducted the study as part of the SOE's teaching abroad program. Pam Dunbar, deputy principal of the Camp Hill State Infants and Primary School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, obtained permission for the study in a classroom with 5- and 6-year-olds.
The study progressed over 12 one-hour sessions. The lessons included Getting to Know Geometric Solids, Moving Through Shapes, and an outdoor shape hunt. Children worked with positional words while learning about armadillos. "It was great for them [the children] to see that geometry is everywhere in their world," Jordan Sandefur recalled. "It is all over their playground, which they see and play on every day."
Data collection included observations, scripting of responses, video reviews, and candidate reflection. "I noticed that physically walking the shapes was really helpful. This is an activity that I would like to use in the future," Julie Leary said.
The post assessment analyzed geometric thinking after children engaged in a variety of hands-on manipulative and real-life experiences. Data indicated children increased in language development, including descriptive math vocabulary. Children also displayed the ability to connect two- and three-dimensional shapes, and they expanded their experiences with positional words.