What in the World is This? Discovering Meaning Through Situational Narrative

Summer 2015

Dana Rosen : Interdisciplinary Studies

Mentor: Dor Abrahamson, Mathematics, Education

Imagine two hot air balloons that leave the ground at the same time. As they rise, one of them moves faster than the other and the distance between them grows as they get higher. Proportionality is everywhere in our world, as are many other mathematical concepts that we don’t consider day-to-day, which teachers often refer to real-world situations in the math classroom. However, educational reformers debate whether students should begin learning concepts from abstract producers or concrete situations. The embodied cognition approach reconciles these two approaches, suggesting that we should enter a new bodily scheme and then ground this in concrete situations and abstract towards symbols. This summer, I’ll work with an interactive device that facilitates visualizations of proportion and sheds light on learner’s conceptual understandings that originate from bodily experience. What narratives do students bring from their own experiences, and how can we use fabricated narratives to “ground” an emerging concept? I will research how we can incorporate narrative situations into embodiedagent-based mathematics learning environments. I hope my research provides a foundation for new iterations of emerging educational technology and developments in mathematics curriculum. 

I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to pursue my research as a SURF Fellow during the summer of 2015. The program has inspired me to engage in my field and offers a wonderful cohort of other students pursuing research who motivate me to push through my challenges. I had hoped to work on an Honors Thesis for much of my college career, and I am thankful that this will become a reality through the SURF sponsorship and the support of the JSB Fund donors. I am deeply thankful to all of the generous donors and staff who make this opportunity possible and I am so excited to dedicate myself to research over the coming months.