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Developmental activities mathematics program (DAP) in a first grade classroom: What concepts are students learning?

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer one research question: How does the Developmental Activities Program (DAP) , a discovery type curriculum, promote the learning of math concepts in a first grade classroom? My research was based on the works of a husband and wife team Dale Rubley Phillips (1991) and Darrell G. Phillips (1994). The Phillips' theory proposes that children learn mathematics better when they can discover math concepts on their own and make it relevant to previous experiences. This can be achieved through a discovery type curriculum, the Developmental Activities Program. This study took place in a K-6 elementary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were a first grade classroom. Information was gathered in the classroom through a variety of methods including observations, interviews, and the collecting of students' journals. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity I used pseudonyms for all participants in this study. After collecting and organizing extensive field notes, interviews, and students' journals, various patterns emerged in the ways these children approach math during DAP time. My research revealed that valuable learning of basic math concepts was taking place when the students were using this type of curriculum. This learning could be seen in looking at the interactions students had with the manipulatives and their peers along with the conversations between the students and the teacher. The journal entries also expressed that the first grade students were learning basic elementary math concepts of classifying that is a prerequisite for further learning involving math.


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