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Unitec lecturer Robyn Gandell receives award for mathematics paper

  • Robyn Gandell Maths Award
    Students thinking mathematically in movement

Unitec Bridgepoint lecturer Robyn Gandell was recognised at the Conference of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education for her paper “ Moving Mathematically.”

25 February 2022

The award is given for outstanding contributions to the ERME conferences by a committee of experts and Robyn’s was one of three papers chosen for an award from an international field of 64 researchers.

Robyn has a background in dance as well as mathematics, and is currently studying towards her Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Auckland.

She says her research investigates how students use movement in mathematical problem solving.

"One of my research environments provided students an open space but no tables and chairs. My analysis of this environment revealed students thinking mathematically in movement.”

She noted in her paper, “Humans cannot remove themselves from their bodies and think in some disembodied mind. As this paper demonstrates, students’ movement is not only integral to their thinking and knowing, students think in movement.”

Students’ spontaneous movements provide access to mathematical thinking and knowing that may not otherwise be available. To fully understand students’ mathematical thinking, mathematics educators need to develop approaches that recognise and support students’ thinking in movement, rather than considering movement as an adjunct to verbalisation or an expression of concepts held in a mind.”

The judging committee said they “valued particularly how this original, small-scale study of students’ engagement with solving modular arithmetic tasks imports embodied theories in mathematics education research with data analyses that steer away from the body/mind binary and pinpoint what we may miss when we treat body movement as a mere adjunct to thinking.”

Read the paper here.