Mathematical Thinking and Learning Through Robotics Play for Children With Critical Illness: The Case of Amelia

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  • 1 University of Central Florida
  • 2 Illinois State University

A 14-year-old child with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia participated in 52 weeks of robotics task-based interviews. We present 3 of her tasks from Weeks 1, 20, and 46 along with an overview of the complete 52 weeks. We compare the data from the tasks to Brousseau's (1997) Theory of Didactical Situations of Mathematics to answer our research questions: Can robotics play support the devolution of a fundamental situation to an adidactic situation of mathematics for children who are critically ill? When children with critical illness engage in robotics play, what are the key features of the robotics phenomenon that support devolution to an adidactic situation? We found evidence of the robotics supporting the devolution of a fundamental situation to an adidactic situation of mathematics in each robotics task and evidence of 4 key features (thick authenticity, feedback enabling autonomy, connectivity, and competence) of robotics play that support this devolution.

Contributor Notes

Megan Nickels, School of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, College of Education and Human Performance, University of Central Florida, P.O. Box 161250, Orlando, FL 32816;

Craig J. Cullen, Department of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, Illinois State University, Box 4520, Normal, IL 61790-4520;

(Corresponding author is Nickels author is Cullen
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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