Pisa results affirming for mathematics learning in the hong kong early childhood setting
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PISA results: affirming for mathematics learning in the Hong Kong early childhood setting?. Dr Wong Kwok Shing , Richard Dept. of Early Childhood Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong-China. Aims of this presentation.

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Pisa results affirming for mathematics learning in the hong kong early childhood setting

PISA results: affirming formathematics learning in the Hong Kong early childhood setting?

Dr Wong Kwok Shing, Richard

Dept. of Early Childhood Education,

Hong Kong Institute of Education,

Hong Kong-China

Aims of this presentation
Aims of this presentation

  • What do Hong Kong (HKG) early childhood practitionersteach and what types of activities do they employ in the classroom?

  • Do HKG teachers help young children build a solid foundation for future maths learning?


  • Past century: Asia has looked to the West

    (超英趕美, literally ‘surpass Britain, catch up with the US’)

  • The latest PISA results in Mathematics: the top three economies/ countries are all in Asia.

Data interpretation
Data Interpretation

  • Looks reaffirming

  • But greater variation across students in the top-performing economies or countries

  • Equity issue:

    • A higher proportion of students scoring at level 5 or above in the top-performing economies/ countries

    • What does this imply?

Issues for exploration
Issues for exploration

  • Past studies:

    • Greater intellectual capacity ofAsian students?

    • Superior mathematics education in Asia? (see Leung, 2000)

    • More demanding parents in Asia (See Chen & Stevenson, 1995; Kwok & Lytton, 1996; Leung, 1999)

    • Learners hold high standards for themselves (See Chen & Stevenson, 1995; Kwok & Lytton, 1996)

  • What is left to be explored...???

What i want to investigate
What I want to investigate…

  • What applies to the primary school setting may not apply to the kindergarten setting

  • How do HKG preschool teachers help to lay a solid foundation for young children to learn mathematics?

    • What methods do they use in teaching maths?

    • Do they teach the skills that are critical for children’s future mathsabilities?

    • What is the content covered at different age levels?

    • How much do they believe in nurture in contributing to a child’s mathsability?

92 participants
92 Participants

* Years of teaching experience: 4.41 years (SD = 4.6)

Tool a self developed questionnaire
Tool: A self-developed questionnaire

  • Demographic information

  • 17 itemsfocusing on three types of activities: child-centered, teacher-centered, activities favoured by psychologists

  • 36 items: specific mathscontent

  • Other items: teachers’ motivation in learning maths, teachers’ beliefs, etc.


Drilling? ‘Traditional’ approach

Emphasis of teacher educators

Emphasis of dev. psychologists

Between group differences
Between-group differences

  • Factorial analysis of variance (p < .05)

  • No main effect for group except for group exploration

  • No main effect for age of the children except for homework, backward counting, statistics, patterns and missing number

  • No interaction between group and age of the children

Maths content number
MathsContent: Number (%)

Maths content sets
Mathscontent: Sets (%)

Maths content addition and subtraction
Mathscontent: addition and subtraction (%)

Maths content location shape and others
Mathscontent: location, shape and others (%)

Other results
Other results

Note 1: No differences across groups (F-test, p < 0.05)

Note 2: Significant difference between the scores for nurture and nature (t-test, p < 0.01)


  • Relatively inexperienced teachers…

  • Not so motivated in learning maths themselves…

  • Not much time spentteaching maths… (18 minutes on average)

  • Certainly NOT experts

  • But believing in hard work!!

  • Bad news for teacher educators but good news for developmental psychologists!

  • PISA results: really affirming???

Further issue for exploration
Further issue for exploration

  • What is the role of tutorial centres (colloquial term: 雞精班, literally ‘class serving chicken extract’)in Asia?

  • A case study: school versus tutorial centre

What does the same child learn in the tutorial centre same concepts but in english
What does the same child learn in the tutorial centre? Same concepts but in English!

  • Addend turn around: 5 + 6 = 11 and 6 + 5 = 11

  • Addition and subtraction: up to 24

  • 3 addends

  • Pattern: sequence, complete a pattern

  • Match patterns: visual skills

  • Right & left

  • Mental rotation

  • Combine figures

  • 3-D shape

Contribution of tutorial centres
Contribution of tutorial centres

  • Concepts that are learnt at school are re-introduced through a foreign language

  • A lot of practice: many practice items

  • Memorization (automacy): no need to compute the answers

  • Visual skill training

  • Logical reasoning

Hidden cost pressure
Hidden cost: pressure

  • The mother said, ‘If you’re a failure, better not live in Asia because you will be trampled on. The system here only helps the “winners”. If you have problems, study abroad or just go abroad-the system there is more protective and caring.’


  • System is geared towards examination success but to the detriment of play

  • Do children have a happy childhood? Or is their childhood being cut short? (Further research)

  • My own experience…

Appendix a what do scholars recommend
Appendix A: What do scholars recommend?

  • Short-term predictors (beginning to the end of kindergarten): counting, quantity discrimination, and number naming (Jordan, 2010)

  • Long-term predictors (beginning of kindergarten to the end of grade three): foundational number sense supports computation and applied problem solving (Jordan et al., 2010)

Underlying pathways lefevre et al
Underlying Pathways (LeFevre et al.)

  • Quantitative pathway

  • Linguistic pathway

  • Spatial pathway

    => A learner excels in one area of mathematics but not in another area