"Kinemathics": Kinetically Induced Mathematical Learning

28 Jul, 2011

"Kinemathics": Kinetically Induced Mathematical Learning

Dor Abrahamson, Assistant Professor Graduate School of Education Cognition and Development: Education in Mathematics, Science, & Technology, UC Berkeley

We're developing and researching an embodied-interaction design for mathematics learning. Children remote-manipulate virtual objects on a computer screen in an attempt to figure out the underlying principle of the "mystery device." The underlying principle is proportionality, a mathematical conceptual system that challenges many students. Our premise is that everyday life does not occasion opportunities for children to enact what could then serve as the meaning -- the cognitive substrate -- for what thus become challenging mathematical notions. For example, we can all intuitively gesture what "addition" means and, at a stretch, what "multiplication" means, but what does "proportion" mean or look like? Our design principle is to contrive these missing everyday occasions by creating problem-based interactions wherein students' gestural solutions literally inscribe the kinesthetic image schema underlying a conceptual metaphor of the targeted notion, such as proportional growth. If we physically support students in enacting the ambidexterous performance of proportional progression, they may develop and articulate strategies for enacting this physical coordination; if we further interpolate into the learning environment a set of mathematical symbolic artifacts (a Cartesian grid, numerals, etc.), then students may be able to mathematize these emerging strategies in the form of quantitative propositions. Indeed, this is what we are seeing in our emprirical data from 20 interviews with Grade 4-6 students, who participated either in individual or paired interviews.

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Proving that learning math can be fun, Dor Abrahamson, assistant professor of cognition and development at UC Berkeley, demonstrates Kinemathics from the Mathematic Imagery Trainer at the Cyberlearning Tools for STEM Education conference.

The EDRL embodied-design principle.