M3 - Situating Embodied Learning: Embedding Gestures in Narratives to Learn Mathematical FrActions in a digital tablet environment


Researchers developed Iteration-1 of a digital tablet tutor-game exploring the impact of narratives (strong (S) vs. weak (W)) and gestural mechanics (conceptual (C) vs. deictic (D)) on players’ understanding of mathematical fractions. In a two-by-two factorial design, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade elementary students at an afterschool program in Harlem, NYC (NTTL=72; x̄AGE=10.31 years [1.64], 67% female) were randomly assigned to play one of the four tutor-game environments (SC, SD, WC, WD). Pre/post scores on formal fractions assessments showed significant learning for all groups. Tutor-log data revealed that students using conceptual gestures were significantly more accurate at estimating and denominating fractions than students using deictic gestures. Observational notes, student exit surveys and clinical interviews corroborated that many students used the tutors’ gestures in their explanations of fractions. This collection of data is used to discuss the impact of gesture and narrative on learning fractions and digital-tutor design.

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