Description

This is a full research and development project that will address the DR-K12 program challenges: How can all students be assured the opportunity to learn significant STEM content? and How can we enhance the ability of teachers to provide STEM education? We propose to conduct interdisciplinary research to advance our understanding of embodied learning as it applies to STEM topics across a range of current technology-based learning environments (e.g., desktop simulations, interactive whiteboards, and 3D interactive environments). Our proposal builds from an extensive research basis, including our own prior work, regarding both embodied learning and statistical learning. Embodied learning engages the neuromuscular systems of learners as they interact with the world around them visually, aurally, and kinesthetically in order to construct new knowledge structures. Statistical learning is the ability to learn, often without intent, which sequences of stimuli are consistent with a set of rules. Statistical learning - or pattern recognition - is central to mastery of complex topics in many STEM disciplines including physics and math. Our recent research suggests that statistical learning is rooted in embodiment in that it appears to stimulate mirror neuron activity in learners. The aim of this proposal is to meld these two research trajectories to yield two key outcomes: 1) basic research regarding embodiment and statistical learning that can be applied to create powerful STEM learning experiences, and 2) the realization of exemplar models and principles to aid curriculum and technology designers in creating learning scenarios that take into account the level of embodiment that a given learning environment affords. Our central research questions are: how are student knowledge gains impacted by the degree of embodied learning, and to what extent do the affordances of different technology-based learning environments constrain or support embodied learning for STEM topics? To investigate these questions, we propose three series of experiments: 1) laboratory with single learner, 2) laboratory with collaboration, and 3) In school with collaboration. In Phase 1, we will focus on the physics concept of centripetal force. We will implement a 2 X 3 design by crossing the factor of embodied design (low versus high) with the factor of learning environment. In Phase 2, we will focus on electrical field content employing a 2 X 3 X 2 design with a third factor of collaboration. That is, four participants will be recruited at a time for small group learning to more accurately simulate a classroom environment. In Phase 3 we conduct in school research as the learning scenarios and curricula will be implemented in real classrooms across three sites in Arizona and New York. A cohort of K-12 teachers will be involved at every stage of the research. They will consult during the design phrases and will implement the experiments in their classrooms.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date8/15/107/31/16

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $2,521,541.00

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learning environment
learning
classroom
physics
scenario
school research
curriculum
pattern recognition
basic research
interdisciplinary research
experiment
ability
teacher
development project
research and development
small group
stimulus
research project
student
simulation