Palatnik, A., & Abrahamson, D. (2022). Escape from Plato’s cave: An enactivist argument for learning 3D geometry by constructing tangible models.

In G. Bolondi, F. Ferretti, & C. Spagnolo (Eds.), Proceedings of the Twelfth Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME12, February 6–10, 2022). ERME.

ABSTRACT: Like Plato’s allegorical cave-dwellers, students of three-dimensional geometry seldom get to handle the real thing, working instead with two-dimensional silhouettes. Such historical sensory deprivation may partially explain students’ generally poor conceptual understanding of this core content and alienation from the field. Operating from a perspective of embodied learning, our design-based research study invited middle-school students to collaboratively construct and investigate voluminous objects. We present qualitative analyses of empirical results from implementing two experimental geometry activities. For both cases, we characterize students’ critical insights as shifts in perceptuomotor attention leading to refinement of geometric argumentation. We implicate students’ realization of an available 3D medium affordances catalyzing these shifts. The findings contribute to a socio-material elaboration of embodied learning for school geometry.

Keywords: Spatial geometry, Embodiment, Manipulatives, Visualization

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