Indigenous students transitioning to school : responses to pre-foundational mathematics

Sarra, Grace & Ewing, Bronwyn (2014) Indigenous students transitioning to school : responses to pre-foundational mathematics. SpringerPlus, 3(685).

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Australian Indigenous students' mathematics performance continues to be below that of non-Indigenous students. This occurs from the early years of school, due largely to knowledge and social differences on entry to formal schooling. This paper reports on a mathematics research project conducted in one Aboriginal community school in New South Wales, Australia. The project aimed to identify and explain the ways that young Australian Indigenous students (age 2-4 years) learn number language and processes, specifically attribute language, sorting, 1-1 correspondence and, counting. The project adopted a mixed methods approach. That is, the methodology was decolonising (Smith 1999) in that it collaborated with and gave benefit back to the Indigenous community and school being researched. It was qualitative and interpretative (Burns 2000) and incorporated an action-research teaching-experiment approach where and teachers collaborated with the researchers to try new teaching methods. This paper draws on data pertaining to students' response to diagnostic interview questions, the pre- and post-test results of the interview and photographic evidence as observations during mathematics learning time. Participants referred to in this paper include one female principal (N = 1), and the transition class of students' pre- (N = 6) and post-test (N = 3) results of the pre-foundational processes (also referred to as attributes). The results were encouraging with improvements in colour (34%), patterns (33%); capacity (38%). As a result of this project, our epistemology regarding the importance of finding out about students' pre-foundational knowledge and understandings and providing a culturally appropriate learning environment with resources has been built upon.

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ID Code: 78924
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Transitioning to school, Numeracy, Early Childhood
DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-685
ISSN: 2193-1801
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education (130301)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Sarra and Ewing
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.
Deposited On: 25 Nov 2014 23:49
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014 04:32

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