Transforming the established perceptions of visuospatial reasoning: Integrating an ecocultural perspective

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Many studies on visuospatial reasoning have drawn upon a psychological perspective. Importantly, some research has shown that spatial capabilities are developed through experiences and others emphasise the value of physical involvement. This article reports on investigations of how ecocultural experiences, that is cultural experiences in the environment, are examples of physical involvement that require thought and develop visuospatial reasoning about the environment. Such experiences and reasoning are significant in culture and in mathematical thinking. This article was developed by comparing and contrasting research reports from diverse cultural groups, my own studies and lived experiences. Most studies used ethnomethodologies through field work, unstructured interviews, and yarning, that is talking about the experiences as they occur or in retrospect or in terms of cultural purpose and mathematical implications. Interestingly, many vignettes reveal close links to the traditional psychological spatial capabilities. Overarching many of the studies were cultural relationships between educators, learners and learning. These studies extend our understanding of visuospatial reasoning to show diverse approaches to many areas associated with school mathematics education. This is particularly noticeable in categorising and using shapes, location, and in the use of symmetry, measurement and proportional reasoning. Other findings were that past experiences within a particular ecocultural environment impact intentions, attention, and noticing which in turn affect mathematics learning and investigating. Examples of teaching from an ecocultural perspective to strengthen visuospatial reasoning in mathematics are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-283
Number of pages27
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2020


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