Original Research-Special Collection: Teaching and learning: mathematics, science, design, technology in the Early Years

Reflective self-study for an integrated learning approach to early childhood mathematics teacher education

Makie Kortjass
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a576 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.576 | © 2019 Makie Kortjass | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 August 2017 | Published: 22 January 2019

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Makie Kortjass, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Background: This article gives an account of what I learned through the process of a self-study research project. Self-study teacher research allows teacher educators and teachers to improve their learning, plan new pedagogies and impact students’ learning.

Aim: The aim of this self-study research was to improve my own practice in early childhood mathematics teacher education through interaction and collaboration with others, such as colleagues and students.

Setting: As a South African university-based teacher educator, I piloted an integrated learning approach (ILA) in the teaching and learning of early childhood mathematics in a selected undergraduate programme.

Methods: I began by tracking my personal development in mathematics education and in so doing was able to recognise my personal learning of mathematics as a child growing up in an African township context. I then worked with a class of 38 student teachers to create collages and concept maps to explore their understandings and experiences of ILA.

Results: Through this project, I discovered that colleagues in the role of critical friends provided essential feedback on my work in progress. I also learned that student teachers need to be equipped with knowledge and hands-on experience of how integration can take place in teaching and learning early childhood mathematics. I realised that it was essential to constantly reflect on my own personal history and my professional practice to explore new ways of teaching mathematics.

Conclusion: Teacher educators may consider engaging in self-study research that includes art-based self-study methods to reflect on their practices and see how they change for the benefit of their students and ultimately for the benefit of the learners.


Early childhood mathematics; integrated learning approach; self-study research; arts-based methods


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