Reconceptualising Early Mathematics Learning: The Fundamental Role of Pattern and Structure

Reconceptualising Early Mathematics Learning

Project dates: 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2010

Macquarie University developed an innovative early mathematics program, the Pattern and Structure Mathematical Awareness Program (PASMAP), over a period of five years. In this program, children developed a general understanding of pattern and structure across a wide range of mathematical topics rather than learn about isolated, individual topics. Pilot studies had shown that PASMAP could lead to a substantial improvement in young children’s understanding of mathematics. For example, high achieving students display recognition of the structural features of mathematical situations, in contrast to low achievers, who seem to focus on non-mathematical features of special interest to them.

This project offered schools the opportunity to trial the PASMAP Prep Year program during the 2009 school year, as part of a study funded by the Australian Research Council. The research required the voluntary participation of four full-time Prep teachers. Two teachers implemented the regular mathematics program as prescribed by the state syllabus. The other two teachers implemented PASMAP, which also met state syllabus requirements but by means of a different teaching program. Each pair of teachers were required to work as a team.

The project provided professional development for both pairs of teachers throughout the school year. This consisted of one-day initial training programs in February/March 2009 and weekly visits by an experienced Research Assistant (RA) throughout the year. At these weekly visits, the RA worked with each pair of teachers in reflecting on students’ progress and to plan their upcoming lessons. The project provided financial support for the necessary teacher release time.

Funding / Grants

  • Discovery (2008 - 2010)

Chief Investigators


Other Team Members

Reconceptualising Early Math Learning