Abrahamson, D., Nathan, M. J., Williams-Pierce, C., Walkington, C., Ottmar, E. R., Soto, H., & Alibali, M. W. (2020). The future of embodied design for mathematics teaching and learning

In S. Ramanathan & I. A. C. Mok (Eds.), Futures of STEM education: Multiple perspectives from researchers (Special issue). Frontiers of Education.

ABSTRACT: A rising epistemological paradigm in the cognitive sciences—embodied cognition—has been stimulating innovative approaches, among educational researchers, to the design and analysis of STEM teaching and learning. The paradigm promotes theorizations of cognitive activity as grounded, or even constituted, in goal-oriented multimodal sensorimotor phenomenology. Conceptual learning, per these theories, could emanate from, or be triggered by, experiences of enacting or witnessing particular movement forms, even before these movements are explicitly signified as illustrating target content. Putting these theories to practice, new types of learning environments are being explored that utilize interactive technologies to initially foster student enactment of conceptually oriented movement forms and only then formalize these gestures and actions in disciplinary formats and language. In turn, new research instruments, such as multimodal learning analytics, now enable researchers to aggregate, integrate, model, and represent students’ physical movements, eye-gaze paths, and verbal–gestural utterance so as to track and evaluate emerging conceptual capacity. We—a cohort of cognitive scientists and design-based researchers of embodied mathematics—survey a set of empirically validated frameworks and principles for enhancing mathematics teaching and learning as dialogic multimodal activity, and we synthetize a set of principles for educational practice.

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