PROJECTS and Studies 

Research Area: Cognitive Development; Mathematics Teaching and Learning; Influences of Contexts and Perceptual Features; Embodied Cognition; Relations and Interactions between Cognitive Skills; Educational Technologies; Learning Sciences; Multiple Levels of Analysis

Influences of Embodied and Perceptual Features

In my first line of work, I investigate the effects of embodied and perceptual features in the environment on mathematical thinking and learning. 

I  conducted studies that examine whether and how contexts, such as co-occurring visual features, examiner’s actions, and play materials affect children’s and adults' attention to mathematical features. I also co-authored a chapter on the educational implications of the findings on attention to mathematics.  

Applying these empirical principles in more advanced concepts, I  have conducted intervention studies that leverage perceptual and embodied features (e.g., color, gesture, spacing) to improve student learning. I also use Graspable Math to study how perception and embodiment can promote algebra learning

Cognitive Processes

In my second line of work, I investigate the potential pathways through which cognitive foundations--such as language, metacognition, and executive function---influence mathematical learning. 

I conducted studies to examine potential pathways through which relational language and executive function support mathematical skills. I also used the clickstream data to examine the relation between pausing (a potential indicator of metacognitive skills) on problem solving strategies. I co-authored chapters on the relations between working memory and mathematics learning disability, and on the individual differences in the associations between early executive function and mathematical skills.

With learning analytic researchers, we have to use large datasets to examine the individual differences in the associations between student charateristics, such as persistence, and mathematical learning.

Interdisciplinary Research 

In addition to the basic research, I collaborate with stakeholders, learning scientists, educators, clinicians, and computer scientists to design materials for teaching and learning, and to provide recommendations for practices. For example, with stakeholders, my team is currently designing games and cooking recipes for families to incoporate math in everyday activities.   

As an affiliate of the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education Network, I evaluated executive function demands of mathematical activities and contributed to the development of high-quality learning activities that promote both executive function and mathematical skills.  I provided some ideas for parents and educators to incorporate executive function and mathematics during play and everyday activities through online blogs

In collaboration with Dr. von Baeyer, I conducted a literature review examining the relevance of cognitive developmental factors (e.g., memory, language, executive function skills, symbolic understanding, and mathematics) on preschoolers’ ability to use numerical and faces scales when reporting pain intensity. 

Currently, I work with developmental, cognitive, computer, and learning scientists to examine the influences of educational technologies on learning and to leverage the granularity of the data to further understand children’s cognitive processes.