CAREER: Wearable Tutors in the Embodied Mathematics Classroom


PIs: Ivon Arroyo
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Award Details

The role of embodiment (e.g., the use of both fine-grained and gross motor gestures) in mathematics learning for young students is well-established. With the recent success of mobile games, there is more public awareness of augmented reality – a real-time view of a physical, real-world environment that has elements that are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. This project brings together these concepts of augmented reality and embodied learning to develop a new innovation: mobile-phone-based augmented reality math activities. This research project investigates these activities in public elementary-schools, where students solve math related challenges, and are encouraged to find mathematics in the real objects of classrooms, gyms and playgrounds. Students carry a cell phone-based intelligent system (or a SmartWatch) that supports them as needed, giving hints and feedback as they play multiplayer team-based mathematics games that require them to measure, estimate, compute, discern and discard objects in their environments, both in their minds and using their bodies. This project advances scientific knowledge on how people learn with active physical activities, investigating the role of hand and full-body motions, as well as the role of team-based cooperation in the mathematics classrooms of our public schools.

This project involves a new genre of Cyberlearning Technologies called Multi-Modal Embodied Intelligent Learning and Tutoring Environments that supports learning through (1) Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS), which can trace students’ knowledge and affect in real time, and personalize instruction through moment-by-moment tracking of students’ mental states (i.e. knowledge and affective tracing); and, (2) Embodied Cognition and multi-modal interaction (physically acting on the environment in meaningful ways for more solid understanding and encoding of ideas). This project establishes a new genre of learning technologies that blends well with classroom culture, including hands-on manipulatives and educational games, while still retaining the benefits of intelligent tutoring systems, which consist of smart pedagogical decisions based on a moment-to-moment automatic assessment and understanding of the student at various levels. The project includes a series of experimental interventions that investigate the role of fine-grained gestures and gross motor actions during mathematical problem solving. Specifically, the project investigates (1) the impact of these problem-solving activities on cognitive and affective outcomes; (2) the role of personalized feedback and face-to-face social interactions; and, (3) the elements of the embodied activities that are most effective.

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