Tangible Mathematics Learning

The goal of this project is to design apps for young learners that focus on the development of number sense, taking advantage of the touch-base, dynamic, visual, auditory and kinetic interface. These apps will be freely available to Canadian children and available in both French and English.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Nathalie Sinclair
Funding Agency: Canada Research Chair/Canada Foundation for Innovation

What's Proposed

The touch-screen iPads enable an intuitive, embodied interface suitable for young learners, allowing them to use their fingers and gestures to explore mathematics ideas and express mathematical understandings. However, very few applications are currently available for iPads that are suitable for elementary school learners.

How This Project is Carried Out

In the first phase of the project, the apps will be designed and implemented using a range of theoretical considerations including contemporary learning theories related to embodiment and software design principles from the community of technology-based research in education.

The apps will be tested in a small number of schools and will be modified based on the results of feedback from students and teachers. The resulting apps will then be made available on the app store.

The next phase on the project will involve conduction research on the effect of their use on young students’ mathematical learning. With classroom sets of iPads, purchased through the grant, we will be able to try the applications even in schools that don’t yet have access to iPads, wherever they might be in the province of British Columbia.

Why This Project Matters

Canada is committed to becoming a science and technology leader (Government Science & Technology Strategy). As mathematical understanding is critical to scientific and technological understanding, this research and development of high-quality mathematics learning applications, to be made available to all young learners and their teachers in French and English, can play a key role in enhancing mathematical understanding in young Canadians.

It will contribute to better knowledge of children’s capacities for mathematical understanding and provide directions for improving mathematics teaching and learning in the primary grades.

How This Project is Put into Action

Teachers, parents and students will have access to an application that can be downloaded for free from the app store. Along with the iPad applications, we will provide information and resources that will support their use with young learners and will report on research findings that emerge.