An example activity from the first study involved drawing a triangle while solving a related math problem. Credits: Ginns et al./Springer

Finger tracing has been used by teachers to enable students to learn for over a century. In the early 1900s, the pioneer of Montessori education was a toddler who traced the letters of the alphabet on sandpaper with his index finger, based on his intuition of a multisensory approach to learning (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic). I recommended it. The most efficient. In 1912, Montessori realized that after children mastered the sequence of tracing letters with their index fingers, they “feel great joy” when they close their eyes and try to remember it.

Over 100 years later, his method has been empirically verified. Two new studies at the University of Sydney show that they don’t just follow effective learning methods. When used in combination with the imagination, its positive effects can be amplified.

A previous study from the Sydney Faculty of Education and Welfare Link between plotting and math performance. Currently, follow-up in math and science classes is aimed at people Cognitive Load (The demands placed on the conscious mind by a series of cognitive activities), thereby improving their ability to learn. We also know that it can motivate students to learn. Once the student has gained a basic understanding of the subject through tracing, have them “imagine” the steps with their eyes closed, and while tracing, improve their learning compared to additional tracing with their eyes open.

“Australian schools are up in math and science performance, but there is still room for improvement,” said Paul Guins, academic director and co-author of the treatise. “Our research shows that tracing and imagining strategies can help. They are inexpensive, straightforward, and easy to implement in a variety of media course and classroom topics.

Example activity for the second study. Some participants were assigned to point and plot the lesson material on the life cycle of stars on their computer screens. Credits: Ginns et al./Association for Educational Communications & amp; Technology

Triangular trace

In First study Was announced in Review of educational psychology, 93 Grades 4 and 5 of schools in Shanghai, China, learned about the characteristics of triangular angles. They are randomly assigned to control, trace or trace / imagination conditions, given an example of “missing angle calculation” and completed under practice and test conditions.

The control group were ordered to put their arms aside. The trace group traced the shape, the trace / imagination group traced the shape with their eyes open and were instructed to close their eyes and imagine the trace.

Following this, all groups completed a 13-item questionnaire that performed different types of motivation measures. Cognitive load During the learning process. In other experiments, these results will be translated into new mathematical subjects (mental mathematics), different age groups (students of Chinese higher education institutions) and alternative forms (tracing abbreviations in difficult examples of ” mental mathematics ”). I tried to find out if this could be generalized.

A mini-meta-analysis combining the results of the two experiments showed that fitness-tracking students solved similar problems faster. Followed students also reported lower cognitive load levels and higher levels of intrinsic motivation during class compared to control students. In some cases, tracing and then imagination has reduced the time to resolve test questions compared to tracing alone.

Follow the stars

Was announced in Research and development of educational technologies, NS Second study Adult participants were involved. He highlighted the elements of the star life cycle lesson on a computer screen and considered how the follow-up instructions would help them learn.

Forty-four people were pre-tested for their knowledge of astronomy and were asked to “use their hands” to connect the relevant parts of the text and figure or keep their hands on their knees during the lesson. The first group reported low cognitive load and high interest and enjoyment in the lesson. The important thing is that when you test what you have learned, the students who use their hands during the study not only remember the basic facts of the lesson, but also impart their understanding and solve problems that are not directly. covered by the lesson. I was able to do it.

Why tracing works

“There are several reasons why tracing can be useful for learning,” says Associate Professor Ginns. “Human beings are biologically wired, so they seem to pay attention to the space near their hands. Therefore, when you use the index finger to track visual stimuli, these lesson items are priorities for processing. A ranking. Tracking is also useful for learning. “” Combining all of the important pieces of new material into one piece of information makes learning easier. “

Finger tracing can improve student math scores

For more information:
Bo Wang et al, Sequencing of tracing with imagination, Review of educational psychology (2021). DOI: 10.1007 / s10648-021-09625-6

Provided by
University of Sydney

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