Universidade de São Paulo
Thesis: Connecting Davydov’s works and Cognitive Neuroscience: a deep investigation in numerical skills acquisition
Research supervisor: Dr. Maurício Pietrocola
Considering that the ISCAR Summer University focus on interdisciplinary research this application brings a new perspective on the traditional studies in Mathematics and Science Education. It aims to create a dialogue between new investigations in Cognitive Neuroscience and the works of Vasily Vasilovich Davydov. More than establish an investigation combining these studies my desire is also disseminate Davydov’s ideas and methodologies in Brazil, mainly in the Science Education field where almost only Vygotsky is known and referred. As a researcher in Neuroscience and Education I can clearly see deep connections with the cultural-historical research tradition and I will pursue it henceforth in my career. I am a postdoctoral fellow at University of São Paulo conducting my research creating a strong dialogue between Neuroscience and Science Education. Continuing my work during the PhD I investigate the role of emotions in the acceptance of scientific contents. Supervised by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, I could adapt an experimental design used in neuroscience to measure psychophysiological responses associated with emotion to investigate a possible emotional link with different representation of natural phenomena (scientific models and misconceptions). I was focused in Physics contents but my results and studies led me to investigate how the mathematical thinking affects the understanding of a scientific problem. Thus, during the last year I deeply dove in studies about the development of math capabilities. In this period I had contact for the first time in my career with the Davydov’s ideas. I was astonished and almost immediately I could see a relation between his works with researches in Cognitive Neuroscience about numerical skills acquisition. Since then I am struggling to create a well structure pathway based on this interface that can allows Science Educators researchers understand better how children learn Math and Science and help teachers to develop activities capable of improve kids development of scientific skills. This is because as an Educator, I am extremely concerned about how to provide early mathematics activities for elementary school children that will prepare them for the formal studies in Science and Math also helping them to develop their understanding of scientific concepts later in their lives. As a Science Education researcher I am extremely interested in understand how cognitive math and scientific skills are developed. Thus I am always trying to combine my empirical and theoretical studies with pedagogical and real classroom activities due to the urgent need of improve the quality of Mathematics and Science education in the public schools in Brazil. In this scenario I strongly believe that all epistemological and theoretical work of Davydov can be used not only to provide a deeper understanding of cognitive development, combined with Cognitive Neuroscience as a scientific research, but also as a practical instrument to improve children skill throughout his elementary mathematics curriculum.
Here in Brasil I can easily find several research groups working with cultural-historical research tradition but, as I said before, mainly only with Vygotsky’s perspective. It is extremely hard to find someone that really knows and understands Davydov’s ideas. Due to it I am very isolated and I can not make progress in my work. Thereby when I discovered the ISCAR Summer University I saw a possibility of not only increase my knowledge in Davydov’s works but mainly I recognize a possibility of establish connections for future collaborative studies. Understanding better his work I want to create a research group here at University of São Paulo, with other researchers and elementary and high schools teachers from our public educational system. More than disseminate Davydov’s perspective I want also to conduct a pilot study implementing his mathematics curriculum in some elementary classrooms and schools where I already have a very old tradition in connect my research with the development of practical pedagogical activities. At same time I strongly believe that my work as researcher can be extremely enriched by the ISCAR Summer University experience since I will seek for collaborative investigations with other researchers interested in Davydov’s methodologies. My purpose is not only improve my knowledge as Educator and researcher in Cognitive Science but also I can easily see benefits that are far beyond my self-improvement. Since we know that the ISCAR Summer University is limited to few people I intent to share everything I can to my colleagues and teachers here in my country with the objective of build something bigger than my own experience.