Dept of Mathematics Education seminar: 18 October 2023

40 mins Presentation + 20 mins Q&A: Prof. David Maximiliano Gómez

Gender and socioeconomic biases in adults' judgments of young children's mathematical reasoning

(Universidad de O'Higgins, Rancagua, Chile) []


I will present pilot data of an ongoing project developed in the Millennium Nucleus for the Study of the Development of Early Math Skills (MEMAT). We asked adult participants (N=137) to answer an online survey about a vignette describing a classroom interaction between a child and their educator. In the vignette, the child was required to answer how many candies were in a drawing and to explain how they obtained their answer. We devised eight different versions of this vignette, varying the child's gender (boy/girl), their family SES (high/low), and the quality of their explanation (shallow/deep). Each participant read a single version of the vignette and answered a series of questions about the child's future achievement, personal characteristics, and mathematical performance, as well as the vignette's credibility. Results revealed that participants judged as more credible vignettes with boys giving a deep explanation and vignettes with girls giving a shallow explanation. In addition, performance judgments about boys were more affected by the quality of their explanation than performance judgments about girls. Finally, we asked participants what would happen with the child's performance if they moved from a public/private school to another school of the other kind. The answers of participants who read girl vignettes emphasized more the relevance of the school type, a tendency that was absent in the answers of participants who read boys vignettes. These results suggest valuable extensions of our understanding of gender and socioeconomic biases of adults' perceptions of children's mathematical work. We are currently prepare a larger-scale version of this task that will be applied to a general adult population as well as to preservice early childhood teachers.

40 mins Presentation + 20 mins Q&A: Dr Jean-Philippe van Dijck

Grounding serial order in space: the use of space to structure sequential information in memory

(Thomas More University of Applied Science, Antwerp, Belguim; Ghent University) []


Time and space are tightly linked in our neurocognitive system. This association manifests across different levels of processing. In the current talk, I will provide an overview of the research we did in our lab (over the last 10 years) on the way how we mentally structure sequentially ordered information in (working) memory. I will start by describing our initial observations that we (spontaneously) associate begin and end items of a memorized sequence with left and right respectively. Next, I will present the behavioural, EEG and fMRI studies we conducted to pinpoint the involved cognitive mechanisms and underlying neural substrates. Finally, recent findings on the origin and the (functional) advantages of the spatial coding of serial order in memory will be discussed. Taken together, our results suggest that we mentally “transform” the serial structure of events in (working) memory into a spatial format, that spatial attention is used to search and retrieve information from this spatial template, that the IPS and hippocampus play a role in the (spatial) coding of serial order, that the spatial coding is influenced, but not caused by reading/ writing habits and that it has an advantage on (working) memory functioning and tasks that depend on it.

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Krzysztof Cipora
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