Strategy Diversity in Early Mathematics Classrooms

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Morgridge College of Education, Research Methods and Information Science, Research Methods and Statistics, Teaching and Learning Sciences


Arithmetic, Classroom characteristics, Early childhood, Learning trajectories, Mathematics education, Strategies


Strategic processes are a form of procedural knowledge in which a child knows how to enact a given strategy that improves their capability in problem solving or learning. The solution strategies children use are critical components of their learning, especially in mathematics. Children vary substantially in their knowledge and use of different strategies, and much research has focused on intraindividual strategy variability. However, we do not know if classrooms that evince a broader variety of strategies across children are related to higher mathematics achievement. We investigated the diversity of arithmetical strategies within classrooms and examined the relations between strategy diversity and mathematical achievement as children moved from preschool to kindergarten and first grade. These analyses were applied to data from a large-scale experiment involving 1305 children from 42 schools and 106 classrooms. We created and applied a new method of measuring classroom strategy diversity and related this measure to children’s concurrent and subsequent math achievement. We found that early strategy diversity was strongly related to achievement, but in subsequently, less diversity was so related. We compared these results to the predictions of three theoretical categories and found that our results mainly supported one.

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