EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MATHEMATICS PATTERNING SKILLS AND CONCEPTS IN YOUNG CHILDREN WHO EXPERIENCE INTEGRATED MUSIC AND MATH LESSONS
Research touting the positive effects of music instruction on mathematical ability is abundant. Specifically, studies have shown a causal link between listening to music and spatial temporal reasoning (Rauscher, 1994), receiving music lessons and spatial-task performance (Hetland, 2000), and music instruction and spatial cognitive abilities (Costa-Giomi, 1999). This growing body of research presents a platform upon which future studies may stand. While studies have shown the positive effects of music education on mathematics ability for students of varying ages, the result of early mathematics and music education is beneficial (Bryant-Jones, Shimmins, &Vega, 2000). In addition, many studies focus solely on the effect of music on spatial-temporal reasoning or spatial task performance. Therefore, the proposed study explores how mathematics patterning skills and concepts develop when pre-kindergarteners experience mathematics and music lessons. Since both mathematics and music present pattern generation within their learning outcomes and standards, this connection will be part of the proposed exploration. Support for combining separate disciplines comes not only from Rauscher’s studies, but also from national organizations such as NAEYC, NCTM, and MENC that promote integrated and developmentally appropriate curriculum. The research question for the study was: How are mathematics patterning skills and concepts developed when young children experience integrated mathematics and music lessons? The participants were 11 pre-kindergarteners, aged four and five, who enrolled in pre-kindergarten at a private preschool in a suburb of a major metropolitan city. The children were taught 8, 20 minute mathematics and music lessons for two weeks. Using qualitative methods, data was collected using four “windows of observation” (adapted from Clements and Sarama, 2009) and provided a comprehensive analysis of pre-kindergarteners’ patterning abilities. These four windows included: performance tasks from thePerformance Task- Pattern Path Assessment, focused observation, video-taping, and metacognitive fieldnotes. The researcher analyzed the Performance Task Pattern Path Assessment by color coding the developmental levels of the children. The remaining three sets of recorded data were analyzed by highlighting and coding recurring themes in the data collected. Commonalities and points of interest among the data were examined and discussed according to themes generated. The researcher found that Child 1 and Child 3 showed no change from the pretest to the posttest (both easily completed the color and shape pattern tasks and Child 3 also correctly completed the rhythmic pattern tasks). Child 2, Child 4, and Child 5, did have a change from the pretest to the posttest. All three demonstrated change in the same categories. Each had a change in the “Pattern Fixer”, “Pattern Extender”, and “Pattern Unit Recognizer” sections. Child 2 also showed a change in the “Numeric Patterner” section. The researcher also found that during the music and math lessons, each of the 5 children created a color and shape pattern-ABABA and AABBAABB-and read the patterns in rhythm. Additionally, each of the children (with the exception of Child 4) created a unique pattern during the lessons. The 7 themes generated from the observation before the lessons, metacognitive fieldnotes, and video-tape recording of the lessons included, “The children have a natural interest in music”, “The Use of Instruments as Non-Musical Toys Before Music and Math Lessons”, “The Children’s Natural Interest in Music was Piqued During Music and Math Lessons”, “Non-Pattern Sounds Created by the Children”, “Pattern making with color and shape”, “Reading patterns in rhythm with one-to-one correspondence”, “Unique pattern making”.