Current Research: Recrafting Mathematics Education
The Recrafting Mathematics Education project, funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL #1420488), explores the mathematics of textile craft, with the goal of designing learning spaces that engages students in mathematical reasoning. This project, is a collaboration with Kylie Peppler and Indiana University’s Creativity Lab. The goal in exploring textile craft comes from the desire to better understand mathematical contexts that attract and maintain women’s interest and engagement, with the goal of designing learning environments for youth that might attract and sustain interest. In this way, this project is concerned with the “mathematics pipeline,” but rather than focusing on how to change women so that they might persist in mathematics, we consider how to change mathematics teaching so that it is more attractive. Textile craft is richly mathematical, and, equally importantly, engages mathematical ideas that span from early counting through representations of hyperbolic space.
Explore: Thinking mathematically through craft
In this project, we seek to better understand how students reason about mathematics through the process of design (rather than creating models of mathematical ideas, another popular use of craft and math). Through this effort, we explore how student reasoning about mathematics is embodied through their activity, and whether and how students come to understand mathematics differently through this activity. Examples that we have worked through involve exploring factors and multiples through planning for size using stitch and row gauge, using proportion to generate matching squares across yarns, textures, and patterns, and using mathematical problem solving to resolve color work and striping challenges.
If you are interested in learning more about the Recrafting Mathematics education project drop us a line!
Our research in the news!
International Women's Day In the basement of the North Branch Library in Nashville, Tenn., on a recent Saturday, you could hear alternating murmurs of excitement and exasperation over the soft clicking of needles. A small group of kids were learning how to knit.
Findings and Publications
Our work to date has focused primarily on what we observe adults thinking about when engaged in textile work; we are currently investigating and writing about student learning through these textile activities.
Gresalfi, M.S., & Chapman, K. (2017). Recrafting manipulatives: Toward a critical analysis of gender and mathematical practice. In Proceedings of the 9th International Mathematics Education and Society (MES9) Conference, Volos, Greece.
Gresalfi, M.S., Chapman, K., & Wisittanawat, P. (2016). Recrafting Mathematics Education. Poster presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
Gresalfi, M.S., Peppler, K., Bell, A.M., Bender, S., & Keune, A. (2016). Recrafting Mathematics education: Embodying mathematical ideas in crafts. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Association for Women in Science, Baltimore, MD.