Project Title

Gender Differences in Spatial Language During Preschool Small Group Geometry Activities

Authors' Affiliations

Winona Shue, Department of Early Childhood Education, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Alissa Lange, Department of Early Childhood Education, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Clinch Mtn

Start Date

4-12-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:30 PM

Poster Number

157

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Early Childhood Education

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Alissa Lange

Type

Poster: Competitive

Classification of First Author

Recent Graduate

Project's Category

Early Childhood Education

Project's Category

Arts and Humanities

Abstract Text

Introduction:

This study investigated the use of spatial language by preschool teachers and children in 12 preschool classrooms to see if there are gender differences in the length and amount of spatial language teachers used with preschool boys versus girls or in the language boys versus girls used, during small group geometry activities. Spatial language, which includes words that explain the configuration of objects and their location in an environment, is related to math skill more broadly (Verdine, Bunger, Athanasopoulou, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2017). Research indicates that girls are scoring lower on spatial skill tests as early as third grade (Levine et al., 1999), so this study aims to determine if one of the contributors may be differences in the way teacher or child language varies at an early age.

Research Questions

1. Will teachers use words from all three categories of spatial language during geometry small group activities in preschool?

2. How much of the teachers’ spatial language use during geometry small group activities is directed at boys versus girls?

3. Will children use words from all three categories of spatial language during geometry small group activities in preschool?

4. How much spatial language are boys using versus girls during geometry small group activities

Methods:

Teacher and child language was coded in videotaped observations of preschool geometry activities collected for a larger study. The resulting data were not normally distributed so frequency counts and duration were analyzed using Mann-Whitney U tests. To further analyze the results from my Mann-Whitney U tests, I ran correlations for both preschool boys and preschool girls.

Results and Conclusion:

Mann-Whitney U tests showed a significantly longer duration of teachers’ use of spatial language towards preschool boys versus girls (p = .03) and of preschool boys’ versus girls’ own use of spatial language (p = .04). The frequency of spatial words used was not statistically significant for either teachers or preschoolers. There was no positive correlation that occurred for the preschool boys in terms of how long the teacher talked to them and the boys’ use of spatial language.

There was a positive correlation in terms of the frequency with which the teacher talked to the girls and the girls use of spatial language. Though the boys’ spatial language was not related to the amount of time teachers’ used spatial language, the fact that girls spatial language was may suggest in general girls are more sensitive to teachers’ verbal interactions and their cues for responding.

Children’s understanding of spatial language is important and contributes to their continued understanding of other important concepts as they progress through their education. Therefore, it is important that children gain an early confidence and skill in using spatial language. Preschool teachers have an opportunity to support them in developing their skills in this area through their own use of spatial language as well as the way in which they encourage children to use it themselves.

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 2:30 PM

Gender Differences in Spatial Language During Preschool Small Group Geometry Activities

Clinch Mtn

Introduction:

This study investigated the use of spatial language by preschool teachers and children in 12 preschool classrooms to see if there are gender differences in the length and amount of spatial language teachers used with preschool boys versus girls or in the language boys versus girls used, during small group geometry activities. Spatial language, which includes words that explain the configuration of objects and their location in an environment, is related to math skill more broadly (Verdine, Bunger, Athanasopoulou, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2017). Research indicates that girls are scoring lower on spatial skill tests as early as third grade (Levine et al., 1999), so this study aims to determine if one of the contributors may be differences in the way teacher or child language varies at an early age.

Research Questions

1. Will teachers use words from all three categories of spatial language during geometry small group activities in preschool?

2. How much of the teachers’ spatial language use during geometry small group activities is directed at boys versus girls?

3. Will children use words from all three categories of spatial language during geometry small group activities in preschool?

4. How much spatial language are boys using versus girls during geometry small group activities

Methods:

Teacher and child language was coded in videotaped observations of preschool geometry activities collected for a larger study. The resulting data were not normally distributed so frequency counts and duration were analyzed using Mann-Whitney U tests. To further analyze the results from my Mann-Whitney U tests, I ran correlations for both preschool boys and preschool girls.

Results and Conclusion:

Mann-Whitney U tests showed a significantly longer duration of teachers’ use of spatial language towards preschool boys versus girls (p = .03) and of preschool boys’ versus girls’ own use of spatial language (p = .04). The frequency of spatial words used was not statistically significant for either teachers or preschoolers. There was no positive correlation that occurred for the preschool boys in terms of how long the teacher talked to them and the boys’ use of spatial language.

There was a positive correlation in terms of the frequency with which the teacher talked to the girls and the girls use of spatial language. Though the boys’ spatial language was not related to the amount of time teachers’ used spatial language, the fact that girls spatial language was may suggest in general girls are more sensitive to teachers’ verbal interactions and their cues for responding.

Children’s understanding of spatial language is important and contributes to their continued understanding of other important concepts as they progress through their education. Therefore, it is important that children gain an early confidence and skill in using spatial language. Preschool teachers have an opportunity to support them in developing their skills in this area through their own use of spatial language as well as the way in which they encourage children to use it themselves.