Embodied curiosity in the mathematics classroom through the affordance of the geometer's sketchpad

Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This dissertation examines the role of curiosity in understanding the process of mathematical meaning-making. I argue that human curious behaviour coupled with the affordances of digital technology are instrumental in the way students construct mathematical meanings and that the body plays an important role in this curiosity-technology relationship. I use data collected from two secondary schools in Jamaica to examine how curiosity could be exploited in the mathematics classroom. The students who participated in this study were between thirteen and fifteen years old and followed the Jamaican Grade 9 curriculum. The data analysis is qualitative in nature and is based on selected pairs of students' interactions involving digital technology and circle geometry theorems. To frame this research, I designed a theoretical framework, which I named Embodied Curiosity, that is grounded in theories of embodied cognition and draws on Andrew Pickering's (1995) conception of agency. The main idea around this framework is the reconceptualization of curiosity (trait-curiosity), to relational-curiosity (the agential relationship between the students' curiosity and digital technology). The broader aim of this study is to respond to the limited research in the mathematics education field around the affective dimension of learning and the integration of digital technology in the mathematics classroom. However, the specific goal is to identify the physical markers of curiosity and to investigate the extent to which Embodied Curiosity fosters the construction of mathematical meanings. In addition, this research seeks to find out how the potentialities and affordances of The Geometer's Sketchpad contribute to the Embodied Curiosity process. This study accentuates the significance of considering Dynamic Geometry Environments (DGEs) as essential tools for stimulating curiosity. It also presents pedagogical implications for teaching circle theorems and fostering deeper understandings about how the attributes of a circle connect to each other. Furthermore, this research allows me to understand that mathematics teaching and learning should not be concerned solely with the nature of mathematics but also the nature of human beings.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Sinclair, Nathalie
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