Educational Studies in Mathematics, 99(3), 293–309. doi:10.1007/s10649-018-9845-0
ABSTRACT: This article concerns the purpose, function, and mechanisms of students’ rhythmic behaviors as they solve embodied-interaction problems, specifically problems that require assimilating quantitative information structures embedded into the environment. Analyzing multimodal data of one student tackling a bimanual interaction design for proportion, we observed: (1) evolution of coordinated movements with stable temporal–spatial qualities; (2) breakdown of this proto-rhythmic form when it failed to generalize across the problem space; (3) utilization of available resources to obtain greater specificity by way of measuring spatial spans of movements; (4) determination of an arithmetic pattern governing the sequence of spatial spans; and (5) creation of a meta-rhythmic form that reconciles continuous movement with the arithmetic pattern. The latter reconciliation selectively retired, modified, and recombined features of her previous form. Rhythmic enactment, even where it is not functionally imperative, appears to constitute a tacit adaptation goal. Its breakdown reveals latent phenomenal properties of the environment, creating opportunities for quantitative reasoning, ultimately supporting the learning of curricular content.