Survey of In-Service Early Childhood Educators' Knowledge, Skills, and Confidence in Teaching Spatial Skills to Young Children
Akerson, Adam 1978-
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Spatial abilities have been linked to mathematics achievement, in addition to science achievement and creativity in the arts (Clements & Sarama, 2007; Shepard, 1978; West, 1991; Wheatley, 1999). Even though the importance of spatial abilities has been recognized, the percentage of preschool teachers who report teaching spatial abilities either through lessons or free exploration is a mere 32 percent (Sarama & DiBiase, 2004), which may lead some to question the qualifications of early childcare teachers. The educational requirements of early childcare teachers varies within states, for programs located in different settings or subject to different regu¬lations, with the result that many practitioners do not hold college degrees, and most are not certified (Whitebook et. al., 2009). Developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide high-quality mathematics education can prove difficult with such a variation in teacher requirements from program to program and state to state. The purpose of this research study was to examine in-service early childcare teachers’ knowledge, methods, and confidence concerning spatial skills development in their classrooms. The participants included 88 in-service early childhood educators who are currently teaching in a preschool or early childcare center. Archival data that were previously collected utilizing the survey instrument, Spatial Abilities Survey for In-Service Teachers, was utilized in this study. The results of the chi-square and ANOVA analyses revealed a statistically significant relationship between in-service early childhood educators’ level of education and their knowledge and skills associated with spatial abilities. Furthermore, a statistically significant relationship exists between the setting in which early childhood educators’ taught and their knowledge and skills associated with spatial abilities. With less than desireable performance in the areas of mathematics and science becoming evident through national assessments as early as 4th grade (NCES, 2009), it is essential that our students be afforded a high-quality education as early as preschool, in order to provide a foundation for future success in these areas. A high-quality education starts with the early childhood educator and the knowledge and skills he/she brings to the classroom.