Mathematics, making & materialism

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University of New Brunswick


Material rich learning environments, called makerspaces are becoming common in schools throughout New Brunswick. Previous research has indicated that these learning environments provide multiple opportunities for students to showcase curriculum knowledge. However, less is known about how student-constructed artifacts and the environments in which they were constructed influence a mathematics learner. This qualitative case study examines students' mathematical experiences, from K-12, during the construction of an artifact. The collected narratives were analyzed for curriculum linkages and interpreted in context with the new theory of inclusive materialism. This study presents three cases, from Grades 2, 7 and 10, each from a different area of New Brunswick, Canada. A student constructed artifact from each case was made from an assemblage of materials. Rather than conveying their mathematical knowledge through paper and pencil calculations, students' material-mediated decisions influenced their mathematical knowledge. It became apparent that it was the materials, both physical and non-physical, within the maker-centred learning environment that contributed to the students' expressions of mathematics. This research provides insights on how to foster a culture of making, mathematics, and materialism throughout a multi-grade level learning community, and how to use maker artifacts as assessment evidence for student mathematics competency.