• Young Children's Perceptions of Mathematics in Problem-Solving Environments

    Megan Loef Franke, Deborah A. Carey
    Thirty-six first graders from 2 different school systems participated in individual interviews to determine the children's stated perceptions regarding what it means to engage in mathematics and the rationale and conditions under which they held such perceptions. These children were in classrooms that reflected the spirit of the current reform movement in mathematics education. Generally, the children perceived of mathematics as a problem-solving endeavor in which many different strategies are considered viable and communicating mathematical thinking is an integral part of the task. The children recognized and accepted a variety of solution strategies, with many of the children valuing all solutions equally and assuming a shared responsibility with the teacher for their mathematics learning. Children had varying perceptions of what it meant to succeed in mathematics, but success was not determined by speed and accuracy. As we begin to understand children's perceptions of mathematics as they participate in reform-minded mathematics classrooms, we become aware of issues concerning the impact of the children's perceptions on both the development of their future perceptions and their mathematics learning.