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Research on Curricular Development for Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics and Science


by Mable B. Kinzie, Jessica Vick Whittaker , Pat McGuire , Youngju Lee & Carolyn Kilday — 2015

Background/Context: As increasing attention is paid to preparing students to succeed in school, the development and adoption of research-based curricula have become progressively more important. However, many curricular designs lack a basis in scientific evidence; research and curricular design are frequently treated as two separate enterprises.

Purpose/Objective: In this paper, we present the Research on Curriculum Design (RCD) model, first advanced by Clements in 2007, with results from its application to the design and iterative development of pre-kindergarten mathematics and science curricula.

Research Design: RCD is an example of design-based research, with the additional specific goals of the production of an effective curriculum and the evolution of theoretical guidelines to inform future curricular designs. Our implementation spanned two years and involved iterative development and testing of two, year-long curricula.

Findings/Results: Application of RCD methods informed our understandings of the target population, the knowledge and skills to be developed, and the theoretical and research-based models that guided the designs. Subsequent iterative development and evaluation in five pre-K classrooms enabled refinement of the curricular design, as well as the evolution of design guidelines useful for informing future curriculum development efforts. A culminating test of the resulting curricula in eight pre-K classrooms suggests the success of the RCD approach, yielding high-quality, high-fidelity teacher implementation, with teacher fidelity and curricular dosage predicting students’ mathematics learning gains across the year.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Results support the value of the RCD model for achieving research-based curricula that have the potential to effectively support teachers in their practice and positively impact children’s early learning.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 7, 2015, p. 1-40
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17948, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 11:28:11 AM

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About the Author
  • Mable Kinzie
    University of Virginia
    E-mail Author
    MABLE KINZIE is Professor of Instructional Technology at the Curry School of Education and Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning (CASTL), University of Virginia. She conducts research on theoretically informed, user-centered interactive and instructional design, and has been recognized with awards for scholarship, instructional design, and faculty practice.
  • Jessica Whittaker
    University of Virginia
    E-mail Author
    JESSICA VICK WHITTAKER is a Research Assistant Professor with the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. Her research focuses on understanding the relation between early teacher–child relationships and children’s academic and social-emotional outcomes, and developing and evaluating professional development aimed at improving teacher–child relationship quality.
  • Pat McGuire
    University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
    E-mail Author
    PAT MCGUIRE is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. His research and recent publications focus on early childhood mathematics and intelligent tutoring systems. He holds a PhD in Instructional Technology from the University of Virginia.
  • Youngju Lee
    University of Virginia
    E-mail Author
    YOUNGJU LEE earned her doctoral degree at the University of Virginia with a focus on Instructional Technology. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at the Korea National University of Education. Her research interests include technology use for teacher education, online course dropout, and peer interactions.
  • Carolyn Kilday
    University of Virginia
    E-mail Author
    CAROLYN KILDAY is the Data Administrator for the MyTeachingPartner-Math/Science project in the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia. Her research interests include children’s development of mathematical knowledge in preschool and associations between mathematical knowledge and executive function.
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