Education & Social Work

Improving early numeracy competencies through compensatory and differentiated interventions at school and at home (MATHPLAY -> MATHBRIDGE)

A quasi-experimental study to support the Early Numeracy Competencies through a Play-based approach both in schools and at home.

Numerous empirical results have shown how pupil’s early numeracy competencies (ENC) are predictive of their subsequent academic and socio-professional success (Duncan et al., 2007). It is also well established that students who start primary school with low ENC remain mathematically behind their peers later in their schooling (Jordan et al., 2009). These ENC are influenced by pedagogical practices at school but also, primarily, by family numeracy practices (Starkey et al., 2004). While the association between family practices and children's ENC is positive and significative, there is still a need to better understand family factors supporting young children to develop these competencies (Missall et al., 2015). Moreover, few studies have already analysed the interactive effects of both contexts: home and school (Anders et al., 2012). Kindergarten represents a logical starting point to begin and address the issue of preventing ENC difficulties by investigating the possibility of preventive interventions, at school and at home, for school beginners who have not yet begun to fail. The chances of solving problems are substantially enhanced when individuals at risk for ENC development are quickly identified so that the learning deficit does not persist and becomes increasingly difficult to overcome.

MathBridge study seeks to compare the influence of an intervention, that supports the ENC development, including both an academic and a family component, on ENC mean progress outcomes and the skills heterogeneity. These interventions will include several degrees of support (tiers), at school and at home, to support learners in an appropriate way depending on their initial ENC levels. Two main research hypotheses arise from this purpose:

  1. The differentiated math intervention will lead to higher ENC mean progress than the control group, without increasing the differences between pupils.
  2. The addition of a family component with increasing supportive tiers depending on the initial child's ENC level, will not only lead to a higher ENC mean progress than the other groups, but also to a greater reduction in skills heterogeneity.

Given the huge heterogeneity of the Luxembourgish population (nearly 48% of residents have a foreign background), the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE) seeks to give every child the best chance of success by reducing educational inequalities related to social origin, migration or language background. To achieve this, MENJE highly recommends bringing formal and non-formal education together. MathPlay and MathBridge fully meet its educational objectives.

We are currently analysing the data collected in the MathPlay research and publishing the results. An application for funding, MathBridge, was submitted in April 2021 to the FNR to refine the findings observed in the first research.

UL members

  • Débora Poncelet, Institute for Lifelong Learning and Guidance
  • Sylvie Kerger, Institute for Lifelong Learning and Guidance
  • Christophe Dierendonck, Institute for Lifelong Learning and Guidance

External Partners

  • University of Teacher Education of Vaud (Switzerland)
  • University of Liège (Belgium)
  • University of Lorraine (France)

People related to this project