Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Early Childhood Education

Committee Director

Melva Grant

Committee Member

Ian Sutherland

Committee Member

Brandon Butler

Committee Member

Lea Lee


The mathematics knowledge students develop in prekindergarten is key to their ability to make sense of more complex mathematics in the future (C. T. Cross, Woods, & Schweingruber, 2009; Ginsburg, Lee, & Boyd, 2008). Research continues to present evidence that there is a mathematics achievement gap between minoritized students living in lower socioeconomic communities compared to their peers before entering kindergarten (Arnold, Fisher, Doctroff, & Dobbs, 2002; Duncan et al., 2007; Sonnenschein & Galindo, 2015; Wang, 2010). The joint position statement issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2010) states that all prekindergarten teachers working in public and private settings should utilize age and developmentally appropriate instruction to promote mathematics readiness. Yet there is limited research that provides data that captures non-licensed pre-K teachers’ beliefs towards preschool mathematics or the mathematics instruction these teachers deliver as it relates to age and developmentally appropriate instruction.

In order to explore this topic, an exploratory qualitative study was conducted with two non-licensed prekindergarten teachers, framed by McCray’s (2008) mathematical pedagogical content knowledge framework. Data were collected using one structured and two semi-structured interviews, observations, questionnaire, and surveys. The qualitative analysis of these data yielded four themes that shed light on mathematics instruction provided by the two non-licensed pre-K teachers, and they were used to organize the results. Mathematics instruction is related to Theme 1: teacher beliefs and Theme 2: access to available resources. Mathematics in pre-kindergarten Theme 3: is primarily number sense; and Theme 4: mathematics instruction occurs in free-play during center time.