AquaMOOSE 3D: a Constructionist Approach to Math Learning Motivated by Artistic Expression
Elliott, Jason Lynn
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Research has shown that students interest in academics declines significantly with age, especially in the areas of math and science (Kahle et al., 1993; Wigfield, 1994; Wigfield and Eccles, 1992). One approach to combating this problem is by using new technologies to engage students who otherwise would not be interested in learning. In the AquaMOOSE project, 3D graphical technology is combined with a constructionist learning philosophy to create an environment where students can creatively explore new mathematical concepts. The AquaMOOSE socio-technical system has been developed using an iterative design process. Three formal studies were conducted to assess the effectiveness of the system, as well as several smaller scale evaluations. The first study was conducted during a six-week summer program where students were able to use the AquaMOOSE system during their free time. The second study explored different learning issues in the context of a comparison-class study at a local high school where one section learned about polar coordinates using standard curriculum materials and an equivalent section learned the same material using a curriculum designed specifically around the AquaMOOSE system. The final study of the AquaMOOSE system was in an eight-week after-school program at a local high school where a balance between structure and creative freedom was explored. In this thesis, the iterative design and evaluation of the AquaMOOSE socio-technical system is presented. Evidence from this process is used to suggest implications of using 3D technology and constructionist philosophy for teaching complex mathematical content. The findings presented address issues of using constructionist learning environments for complex content and the tradeoffs of using 3D technology for educational systems.