Dor Abrahamson

Research Expertise and Interest

mathematical cognition, design-based research, mixed-media design for mathematics learning environments, embodied interaction

Research Description

Dor Abrahamson is a professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the Graduate School of Education.  He studies the process of mathematics teaching and learning from the complementary perspectives of cognitive science and socio-cultural theory as these dialogue with the emerging paradigms of embodiment. Abrahamson is a design-based researcher. From this practice emanate three types of products: (1) experimental content-oriented technological materials and activities evaluated for scale-up potential; (2) theoretical constructs and models developed and refined vis-a-vis the evolving field of the learning sciences; and, reflexively, (3) principles and frameworks for the process of educational design. The particular content areas Abrahamson has focused on have been intensive quantities, such as ratio, likelihood, and slope, but more recently he has been working with students also in the area of early algebra.

Abrahamson's current broad interest is in the relation between physical action and conceptual learning. Collaborating with international colleagues, Abrahamson's laboratory has been developing embodied-interaction technological systems for the guided reinvention of mathematical concepts. As part of this research program, they recently ran a multiyear NSF-funded project to create computer-embedded animated avatars that incorporate naturalistic gesture in face-to-face mathematics tutoring.

Abrahamson directs the Embodied Design Research Laboratory. EDRL projects are typical of the design-based research multi-disciplinary approach: inspired by all students's capacity to deeply understand mathematics subject matter, e.g., rational numbers, probability, and statistics, and driven by specific conjectures as how to engender such understanding, EDRL members build task-based activities involving mixed-media materials, which they engineer, construct, and iteratively modify. By analyzing student multimodal behaviors -- speech, gesture, eye-gaze -- as they engage in these activities, EDRL develops theoretical models of learning linked to pragmatic design frameworks.

Recipient, National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship for Seeing Chance, a design-based research project that investigates how students build personal meaning for probability concepts.

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