Theses Doctoral

Development and Evaluation of a Computer Program to Teach Symmetry to Young Children

Fletcher, Nicole

Children develop the ability to perceive symmetry very early in life; symmetry is abundant in the world around us, and it is a naturally occurring theme in children’s play and creative endeavors. Symmetry is a type of pattern structure and organization of visual information that has been found by psychologists to aid adults in the processing and recall of visual information. Symmetry plays an important role across branches of mathematics and at all levels, and it provides a link between mathematics and a variety of fields and areas of study. Despite this, symmetry does not figure prominently in early childhood mathematics curriculum in the United States. The purpose of this study is to develop, implement, and evaluate a computer program that expands young children’s innate perception and understanding of symmetry and its subtopics—reflection, translation, and rotation.
Eighty-six first and second grade children were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: nine sessions using the symmetry computer program designed for this study, or nine sessions using a non-geometry-related computer program. Results showed that children assigned to the experimental condition were better able to identify symmetry subtypes, accurately complete translation tasks and symmetry tasks overall, and explain symmetric transformations. These findings suggest that children are capable of learning about symmetry and its subtypes, and the symmetry software program designed for this study has the potential to improve children’s understanding of symmetry beyond what is currently taught in the early elementary mathematics curriculum. Recommendations for other researchers, educators, and future research are discussed


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Ginsburg, Herbert P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 12, 2015