Educational Neuroscience: Using Cognitive and Brain Science to Enhance our Understanding of Learning and Achievement in Math
Educa&onal Neuroscience: Using Cogni&ve and Brain Science to Enhance our Understanding of Math Learning Susan C. Levine University of Chicago Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center
Research Ques&ons • Is there a preparation gap in math knowledge related to parent math input in the early home environment?• Are variations in young children s math achievement related to affective inputs – to teacher math anxiety in early elementary school?• Why does math anxiety not always disrupt math performance? • Insights from a brain imaging study
Numerical and Spa&al Skills: Key Elements of Early Mathema&cs • Numerical and spa&al skills are vital for success in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) • These skills begin to develop at an early age (e.g., Delgado & Prieto, 2004; Levine, Huttenlocher, Taylor & Langrock, 1999)
Early Individual Diﬀerences in Children s Math Knowledge: Do they maOer? • Children show wide dispari&es in their mathema&cal knowledge by preschool. • These early varia&ons predict children s later math achievement. • Importantly, early varia&ons in math knowledge are related to diﬀerences in the cogni&ve and aﬀec&ve inputs young children receive.
Study 1: Children’s ﬁrst classroom is the home • Diverse sample of parent-‐child dyads followed longitudinally. • Coded math talk – talk about number and spa&al rela&ons -‐-‐ today will focus on number talk.
Large Varia&on in Parent Number Talk • Across our sessions range was 4 to 257 number words • Extrapola&ng, translates to enormous diﬀerences in children s opportunity to learn 28 to 1799 in a week 1456 to 93,548 in a year
Children’s Cardinal Number Knowledge • Assessed at 46 months • Point-‐to-‐X task Experimenter: Point to three.
Rela&on between parent cumula&ve number word tokens (log) and child cardinal number knowledge at 46 months
Quality of number talk also maOered • Talk about number with present objects predicts children s understanding of the number words • Talk about number of objects in larger sets (4 to 10), in addi&on to 1, 2, and 3 also predicts children s understanding of number words
Why is talk about sets >3 par&cularly helpful? • Unlike smaller sets, sets larger than 3 cannot be enumerated exactly without coun&ng. • Hypothesis: The necessity of coun&ng these sets to determine their exact numerosity helps children link coun&ng to the cardinal number of objects in a set – to understand the purpose of coun&ng. Gunderson & Levine (in press) Developmental Science
Future studies are informed by classroom prac&ce and by cogni&ve science • Partnering with teachers to implement lessons that strengthen children s understanding of early math – using their feedback to design beOer instruc&on in an itera&ve manner – Cri&cal classroom-‐lab interac&ons • Examining how a learning principle that emerges from cogni&ve science – spaced learning works beOer than massed learning -‐ applies to early math learning
Spaced vs. Massed Learning • How does it apply to math learning -‐-‐ what is the op&mal spacing? – At diﬀerent developmental &me points – At diﬀerent points in the learning trajectory – In real-‐world learning environments – For diﬀerent learning goals: facts, procedures, and concepts – To promote long-‐term reten&on and generaliza&on
Study 2: Aﬀec&ve Input: Teachers math anxiety predicts students math achievement • We also inves&gated the role of teachers math anxiety on children s math achievement because… – Elementary educa&on majors in the U.S. have high levels of math anxiety (Hembree, 1990) – 91% of early elementary school teachers are female (Na&onal Educa&on Associa&on, 2003)
Hypotheses • Teachers math anxiety may impact girls by conﬁrming a self-‐relevant gender stereotype (e.g., Cvencek, Meltzoﬀ & Greenwald, 2009) • Girls who conﬁrm tradi&onal gender stereotypes ( boys are beOer at math, girls are beOer at reading ) will learn less than other children
Sample and Study Design • Students math achievement and gender stereotypes were assessed at the beginning and end of the school year • Teacher math knowledge and anxiety assessed at end of school year
Assessing children s gender stereotypes about math: Gender ability beliefs task One story about math, one about reading This is a story about a student who is really good at math. This student is always the first to finish every math problem, no matter how hard. And this student also really likes doing math. If there is a math problem to be done, this student is the one to do it. This student is a really great mathematician. Can you draw a picture of this student? Is it a boy or a girl? (adapted from Steele, 2003)
Example drawings Reading = Girl Math = BoyChildren who confirm stereotype draw girl for reading and boy for math
Teacher assessments • Math anxiety (sMARS; Alexander & Martray, 1989) • “Reading a cash register receipt aoer you buy something” • “Studying for a math test” • Math knowledge for teaching (CKTM; Hill, Schilling & Ball, 2004) • Teachers varied widely on both
Media&on Analysis • Teacher math anxiety predicted girls end of year math achievement Teacher Math β = -0.21* Girls’ Math Anxiety Achievement • Mediated by girls gender ability beliefs Gender β = 0.31* Stereotypes β = -0.23* Teacher Math Girls’ Math Anxiety Achievement β = -0.16, n.s. *p<.05 (Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez & Levine, PNAS, 2010)
End-‐of-‐Year Math Achievement by Gender Ability Beliefs (Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez & Levine, PNAS, 2010)
Implica&ons • Teacher math anxiety may help to explain the forma&on of gender stereotypes and the divergence between boys and girls artudes toward math • To reduce these eﬀects, it is important to directly address teachers math anxiety, as well as their math knowledge, as a component of teacher training
Study 3: How brain imaging can help inform eﬀorts to reduce math anxiety • Anxiety about math common and deleterious to learning, but not all math-‐anxious individuals perform poorly in math. • Why is this the case? Lyons and Beilock (2011)
Study 3 Summary • High math anxiety individuals who recruit additional working memory resources or exercise greater regulation of their anxiety response (or both) reduced math performance deficits that are typically associated with math anxiety.• These responses begin when individuals anticipate doing math, before they even see the problem.• Its not that these individuals don t feel anxious – they do, but are able to manage their anxiety successfully.
Overall Summary • Both cogni&ve and aﬀec&ve inputs are related to math learning from an early age • We can increase our understanding of how these factors interact – • By carrying out studies in the lab and in real-‐world learning environments • By collabora&ng with teachers as research partners • By examining the impact of math learning, math anxiety, and stereotypes at the behavioral and neural levels • Overarching goal: To increase math achievement in all children
Acknowledgements… OECD Study parCcipants Collaborators Funding agencies: NSF, SpaCal Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) Grant #SBE-‐0541957 NIH-‐NICHD Grant #P01HD040605