Cynthia Coburn Works to Expand Research in Early Math Education

Cynthia Coburn Works to Expand Research in Early Math Education

Cynthia Coburn

Young children need effective mathematics instruction, especially during the preschool years. Because scientific-based research on the topic is lacking, SESP professor Cynthia Coburn is assisting in an effort to foster new research on young children’s math learning.

Coburn is one of the leaders of a new grant-funded initiative called DREME (Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education), a national network of scholars who will conduct innovative research and lead key projects on important early math topics. A secondary goal of DREME is to increase the number of researchers studying early math skill development.

A number of factors underscore the need for this initiative at this time. Several studies have linked early math concepts to later achievement and have established the long-term benefits of high-quality preschool. At the same time, schooling has shifted to incorporating more academics at the preschool level.

Likewise, adoption of the Common Core standards requires significant change at the elementary and preschool levels. In addition, aligning preK to K-3 and developing more continuity in curriculum is receiving attention through the Pre-K-3 movement.

DREME is beginning four projects related to early math:

  • Increasing Capacity: Creating Resources for Early Childhood Teacher Educators
    The DREME network will develop projects to create new resources for teachers, including professional development modules.
  • Making More of Math Instruction: Using Math Activities to Support Math and Executive Function Skills in Early Childhood
    Researchers will examine how to develop math thinking and executive functioning, since the two abilities are related, and develop related materials.
  • Parents’ and Early Caregivers’ Engagement in Math Activities with Young Children
    DREME will foster parents’ and caregivers’ engagement in their young children’s math learning, including through teaching modules.
  • Preschool-Elementary Continuity and Coherence
    Researchers will study continuity in curriculum and policy from pre-K through grade 2, and its effect on achievement in math.

Leaders of the DREME network include Coburn and SESP alumna Amy Claessens (PhD07), assistant professor at the University of Chicago, along with other prominent scholars from across the nation: Deborah Stipek, Stanford University; Doug Clements, University of Denver; Eric Dearing, Boston College; Dale Farran, Vanderbilt University; Megan Franke, UNCLA; Herb Ginsburg, Columbia University; Susan Levine, University of Chicago; Michele Mazzocco, University of Minnesota; and Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/4/16