Abrahamson, D., Tancredi, S., Chen, R. S. Y., Flood, V. J., & Dutton, E. (in press). Embodied design of digital resources for mathematics education: Theory, methodology, and framework of a pedagogical research program.

In B. Pepin, G. Gueude, & J. Choppin (Eds.), Handbook of digital (curriculum) resources in mathematics education. Springer.

ABSTRACT: Embodied Design is a long-term multi-project educational research program committed to advancing the field’s understanding and improvement of teaching and learning processes. Operating in the design-based research approach, embodied-design investigators imagine, build, and evaluate problem-solving activities designed for students to get first grips on targeted concepts through physical interaction with dedicated technologies. The research program strives to produce an intellectually coherent paradigm, replete with theoretical models, a design framework, sample activities, and mixed-methods instruments and analytic techniques for capturing and interpreting students’ multimodal sensorimotor behaviors and physiological responses as they engage with the activities. Embodied Design posits that to understand a new concept you must first learn to move in a new way that enacts the concept, and yet to move in a new way you must come to perceive the environment in a new way that affords new sensorimotor coordination. Designers therefore create motor-control problems whose perceptual solutions prospectively ground the target concept. Integrating radical enactivist philosophy, dynamic systems theory, and cultural–historical psychology, the paradigm explores how mathematical cognition of specific concepts emerges in perception–action loops and how students’ new enactive capacity then becomes socially elaborated in disciplinary discourse through the mediated adoption of professional tools as pragmatic-cum-semiotic frames of reference. The chapter lays out the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the Embodied Design paradigm and explains the design rationale and research findings through discussing representative activities. The chapter further explains how teachers facilitate the activities through multimodal tutorial intervention, how teachers creatively apply the paradigm more broadly, how the research program seeks to serve students of diverse sensorial capacity and neural composition, and what theoretical and practical challenges lie ahead.

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