Grantee: Young Mathematicians in Worcester
Study Type: Pre-Post
Principal Investigator: Colleen F. Manning – Goodman Research Group, Inc.
Project Description: This is a pre-post study of Young Mathematicians-Worcester, a preschool math program serving young children and their caregivers in Worcester, MA. The program provides families with games and other activities to support the development of children’s early math skills, including number sense, geometry, and math reasoning. This report describes program implementation and changes in self-reported math-related attitudes and competencies based on survey responses from the following sample members who were involved in the project during the 2020 and/or 2021 program implementation period: (i) approximately 110 educators (e.g., Head Start teachers) who completed surveys before the program and at year-end, (ii) 80 parents who completed year-end surveys, (iii) 11 Family Math Leaders focus group participants, and (iv) 7 representatives from partner organizations who completed mid-year interviews.
The YM-W project made remarkable progress in carrying out its project development, implementation, and activities, as proposed, especially in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis. The partnership itself was meaningful and strong; the professional learning sessions and resources for educators were valuable; the family math materials were helpful; the family math leaders group was active and inspiring; the family math website was improved; and dissemination of the work is well underway.
The partnership promoted an increased understanding of the importance of math for families and families showed increased interest in and knowledge of early math, increased comfort helping their children with math, and an improved ability to come up with fun math activities to do with their children. Parents also reported the YM-W materials helped them feel less anxious about helping their children with math.
The partnership also promoted an increased understanding of the importance of math for educators and educators also showed increased interest in early math, and increased comfort engaging in math with young children and supporting family math. In some cases, educators’ beliefs about early math also improved, for instance, growing in their understanding that everyone can learn math and that young children are curious about math ideas. There was also a trend for the frequency of educators including math in their teaching to increase from the first to the second year of the program.
Educators also grew in their confidence supporting families to engage their
children in math at home. They showed increased confidence helping parents understand children’s age-appropriate math skills and answering their questions about early math activities, were more confident about the best ways to share math information with parents and connect families to resources that can support children’s math development, and were more confident about knowing the best practices and having the right tools for engaging families in the virtual environment. Educators also demonstrated increased knowledge of children’s development of number concepts.
While we were limited in our study of the extent to which the partnership promoted children’s math learning, educators clearly believed the program mitigated the risks to children’s learning posed by the pandemic, and in some ways strengthened family math engagement and learning.
Finally, a majority of educators were extremely likely to recommend the YM-W program to a colleague, and a majority of parents were promoters of family math talk.
Next steps for the YM-W partnership include expanding the family math learning community partnership across Worcester. The evaluation helped demonstrate opportunities to build capacity for family math in the YWCA/YMCA, local businesses, clinics/WICs, and non-profits. It also demonstrated parents’ beliefs that community support for family math is important and desired.
Study Citation: Manning, Colleen F. Young Mathematicians-Worcester: Final Evaluation Report. Goodman Research Group, Inc., March 2022. Retrieved from https://youngmathematicians.edc.org/ymworc-year2-report/.
Full report here.
The Key Findings above were reproduced from the published report and do not necessarily reflect the interpretation by Overdeck Family Foundation staff.