Using Neuroscience to Improve Learning Fractions

Presented by: Dr. Valorie N. Salimpoor, Neuroscientist
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There is no need to convince a math educator that students have difficulty with fractions. Nonetheless, fractions are critical building blocks for future algebra and other math topics. In this presentation, look into how the brain processes mathematical information to gain a better understanding of how we can optimize learning fractions and other mathematical topics more generally. Dr. Valorie N. Salimpoor shared:

  • How to increase the number of pathways in the brain that represent a concept
  • How to improve the integration of these pathways to facilitate re-activation
  • How to strengthen connections between neural pathways

These strategies can help students develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the material and facilitate efficient recall of information. We will also discuss the important role that working memory, attention, and visuospatial abilities play in learning fractions and mathematics more generally, and how we can improve conceptual understanding by changing the degree to which these cognitive processes are required to understand a mathematical concept. Valorie also discussed techniques that can be used to lower cognitive demands until a full understanding of the concepts are achieved.