22.12.17 - CHANGE OF DATE !
January 9th 2018, 11:15, RLC D1 661

Enculturating movement: From sensorimotor schemes to mathematical structures

My educational research is motivated by an enduring theory-to-practice schism. Whereas cognitive scientists are increasingly adopting a view of mathematical reasoning as ecologically coupled sensorimotor activity, classroom instruction by and large still realizes the dualist view that separates doing from thinking. We conduct design-based research studies of mathematical cognition, learning, and teaching to implement, evaluate, and refine essential tenets of embodiment perspectives, and specifically constructivist genetic epistemology as well as enactivist and dynamical-systems theories. Our pedagogical activities are designed to instantiate mathematical concepts as the coordination dynamics of information structures latent to interactive phenomena. That is, we create technological devices that constitute conceptual ontologies students initially assimilate as new movement forms and then articulate in disciplinary register using available semiotic means of objectification.

The seminar will overview recent findings from empirical studies using the Mathematics Imagery Trainer, an exemplar of the action-based activity genre of my framework, embodied design. We employ mixed methods interleaving microgenetic qualitative analysis of multimodal utterance with quantitative modeling and visualization of eye-tracking data. Findings evidence the emergence of participants’ idiosyncratic perceptual structures guiding their enactment of goal bimanual movements as well as participants’ appropriation of the mathematical frames of reference to promote pragmatic, epistemic, and argumentative efforts. I will highlight potential tensions between these emergent perceptual constructions, which we call attentional anchors, and structural features of available mathematical frames of reference.


Dor Abrahamson (PhD, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, 2004) is a design-based researcher of mathematical cognition and instruction with an appointment as Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, where he runs the Embodied Design Research Laboratory. Abrahamson draws on constructivist–enactivist and sociocultural theories to inform the design of interactive educational materials. In turn, he analyzes empirical data collected in evaluation studies of these activities to develop theoretical models of mathematics learning and to refine his pedagogical framework, embodied design. Abrahamson has published widely in the leading journals of his field and is recipient of grants from the Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Source:Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instruction