Mathematics Education Seminar Online


Embodied technologies for understanding mathematics: a dynamic functional systems approach

Anna Shvarts (Freudenthal Institute, UU)

Technological devices intensively fill our lives. We do not schedule a meeting without a calendar assistant, do not recall phone numbers of friends, do not reach a new destination without a navigator. In culture, technological devices primarily enhance cognitive and physical abilities by substituting human functions. On the contrary, when building educational technologies, we want technology to support learning and contribute to the students’ cognitive functions development. In the presentation, I approach this design challenge from an embodied and extended perspective. In a three-year design research, we built an embodied design for teaching and learning trigonometry to understand how technologies could support mathematics understanding. As students learn to use mathematical artifacts (such as a sine graph and a unit circle), they undergo instrumental genesis, which we conceptualize as the development of a body-artifact functional system. Empirical examples showcase that embodied technologies facilitate conceptual understanding of mathematics when those functional systems grow within students’ actions and thinking. To design such technologies, we “melt” mathematical artifacts and do not present them to the students. Instead, technological environments prompt students to re-discover mathematical relations and further reify them into mathematical artifacts. Finally, I empirically oppose embodied design to visualizing tools and discuss their influence on mathematics learning for various types of students.


Mathematics Education Seminars are conducted monthly; additional information can be found on the seminar webpage

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