At ILT, we take a grounded/embodied cognition approach to mental models. This approach says that students reason about systems by being able to visualize and mentally animate entities that interact and affect each other. We see these mental models as representing a deeper level of understanding than we usually get from students. We are currently conducting a series of research projects that examine the learning, understanding, and motivational effectiveness of various ways of providing this grounding/embodiment, using different combinations of technologies
M3 is a two-year project granted by the National Science Foundation to investigate the role that mobile technologies can play in STEM learning. The project is a collaborative effort between Teachers College and New York City public television affiliate WNET-13 and their Emmy award winning program, Cyberchase. M3 explores the role that gestures play in our conceptual thinking about mathematical fractions. The goal of the project is to develop a mobile gaming application that utilizes the gestures that best embody our understandings of fractions.
Math Models in Motion seeks to improve student’s mathematical problem solving abilities by having students create and manipulate visual representations that match underlying problem schemas such as change, combination, and comparison situations. This project also seeks to discover how computer environments can best be designed to aid problem solving by exploring what virtual manipulatives should look like, how visual representations should be manipulated, and how prompts and feedback can aid students in applying problem solving strategies.
Researchers: Ben Friedman
This ongoing project examines how surrogate embodiment and avatar role-play in virtual learning environments (including the MUVEs, Second Life and OpenSim) can be used to facilitate learning and motivation of learners of all ages across a wide range of domains.
Project Director: Saadia Khan
This project examines how learning, understanding, and motivation develop when students move their own bodies and then program robots to perform related movements, so that learning progresses from personal embodiment to embodiment through robot surrogates. In a series of experimental studies, student learning and understanding of programming, science, and math using this embodied experience are compared with learning without the embodied experience. The project is being conducted in Harlem schools participating in TC’s Harlem Ivy after-school program.
Researchers: Carol Lu, Douglas Huang
SimPhysics uses a 3-D force feedback joystick to allow students to interact with a simulated environment. This unique simulation allows students to feel the weight of the object that they are holding or moving, as they would in real life. The specific simulation is a catapult that is used to teach mechanical energy transformation and conservation. When playing with SimPhysics, students can feel the differences in the weight of the projectile, feel how different types of energy affect the projectile in the air, and see how energy is transformed.
Researchers: Douglas Huang, Sorachai Kornkasem
The research project, Korean vocabulary learning using embodied animations, will be conducted in a college-level elementary Korean language classroom to investigate the effectiveness of embodied animations in learning Korean vocabulary and spelling for beginning learners of Korean as a Foreign Language. This research will also examine barriers and facilitators to successful implementation of high-quality academic foreign language instruction. The study uses a set of Korean vocabulary that is confusing to learn and difficult to spell and specifically focuses on comparing the learning outcome profiles of three conditional groups: Traditional Learning, Animation Learning, and Embodied Animation Learning.
GeoGames is a set of digital activities for elementary school students that are based on research into children’s conceptions of the world and are designed to help with geography concepts and mapping skills. In playing GeoGames, students build a globe, layer by layer, in an online environment. They first build Planet Earth, adding the North and South poles, continents, mountains and rivers. They can then add political entities’ ountries and their major cities. And finally, they can map journeys. These components can be used separately or together, and in any order, depending on the teacher’s goals and the students’ needs. The built globe also appears, and can be printed, as a flat map, helping students understand map projections.
GeoGames is being developed in collaboration with Reach the World, a not-for-profit foundation that offers professional development to teachers in New York City public schools.
Funded by a grant from the National Geographic Education Fund
Project Director: Susan Lowes