Integrated learning of mathematics, science and technology concepts through LEGO/Logo projects
Lina Wu, Michigan State University, United States
Michigan State University . Awarded
This dissertation examined integrated learning in the domains of mathematics, science and technology based on Piaget's constructivism, Papert's constructionism, and project-based approach to education. Ten fifth grade students were involved in a two-month long after school program where they designed and built their own computer-controlled LEGO/Logo projects that required the use of gears, ratios and motion concepts.
The design of this study centered on three notions of integrated learning: (1) integration in terms of what educational materials/settings provide, (2) integration in terms of students' use of those materials, and (3) integration in the psychological sense. In terms of the first notion, the results generally showed that the LEGO/Logo environment supported the integrated learning of math, science and technology concepts.
Regarding the second notion, the students all completed impressive projects of their own design. They successfully combined gears, motors, and LEGO parts together to create motion and writing control commands to manipulate the motion. But contrary to my initial expectations, their successful designs did not require numerical reasoning about ratios in designing effective gear systems. When they did reason about gear relationships, they worked with “qualitative” ratios, e.g., “a larger driver gear with a smaller driven gear increases the speed.”
In terms of the third notion of integrated learning, there was evidence in all four case study students of the psychological processes involved in linking mathematical, scientific, and/or technological concepts together to achieve new conceptual units. The students not only made connections between ideas and experiences, but also recognized decisive patterns and relationships in their project work. The students with stronger overall project performances showed more evidence of synthesis than the students with relatively weaker performances did.
The findings support the conclusion that all three notions of the integrated learning are important for understanding what the students learned from their project work. By considering these notions together, and by deliberating about their interrelations, we take a step towards understanding the integrated learning.
Wu, L. Integrated learning of mathematics, science and technology concepts through LEGO/Logo projects. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University.
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