From “Connecting spatial reasoning to math learning” to “Building Thinking Classrooms”, the Research Day at the Fields Math Ed Forum was an interesting learning experience filled with thought-provoking discussions, presentations and poster sessions, centered around evaluating the current math education climate and practices used in Ontario and Canada as well as identifying better methodologies for success in mathematics.
In the morning session, Dr. Catherine Bruce, an Associate Professor at Trent University, shared her findings of spatial reasoning and its influence on math learning in young children. As a self-proclaimed new comer to the spatial reasoning research world, Dr. Bruce quickly identified that there has yet to be a great consensus on what spatial reasoning is.
Dr. Bruce is interested in connecting researchers and educators that are investigating spatial reasoning, allowing individuals from different disciplines to learn from one another. She shared her project, Math for Young Children (M4YC), which involves young learners from junior kindergarten to grade 2 in classroom settings. These learners are generally underprivileged students with minimal learning resources. The M4YC group has introduced various spatial reasoning tasks to the classroom and evaluated their influence. Tasks have included rotations and manipulations of objects and composing and decomposing numbers. Student data showed that prior to the spatial reasoning intervention, the M4YC group was underperforming compared to their counterparts at a control site.
Amy Lin, from Brock University, is also exploring the potential benefit of coupling bodily motion with mathematics learning, but she is using a different medium: computer interfaces.
Amy highlighted how educational apps, accessed on tablets and touchscreens, provide an opportunity for the designer to embed meaningful actions for the student and promote multimodality learning. This is something that I could relate to very well as the digital learning platforms and apps that we have developed, provide us, as designers, with the flexibility to create meaningful learning interactions, making the experience of learning mathematics engaging for every learner. It was also nice to see that Amy’s research reinforced the potential benefits to utilizing technology for mathematics education and more specifically providing resources that allow students to gesture while learning, as they do on a tablet. The presentations and resulting discussion at the Fields MathEd Forum showcased the passionate and high-quality math educators and researchers that we have in Ontario and Canada. It was a pleasure to be among these individuals who are pushing the boundaries to improve math education. We are looking forward to continuing the discussion at the February edition of the Fields MathEd Forum! You can read more about this research day by clicking here. Meghan Yip Instructional Designer, Vretta Inc.