This fall, DIAGRAM worked with Mad*Pow, a strategic design consultancy, to better understand the impact of using multimodal image resources to understand complex mathematical and scientific concepts. Mad*Pow conducted 25 one-on-one interviews with students who were diagnosed with one or more of the following: low vision, intellectual disabilities, autism, and learning disabilities. The session was divided into two topic areas: frog anatomy and the Pythagorean Theorem, and each participant was presented with an image with text description, 2D tactile graphic, and 3D manipulative model for each topic. Half of the participants were presented with the Pythagorean Theorem first and half were presented with frog anatomy first.
Overall, Mad*Pow found that participants exhibited a preference for modalities that enhanced their understanding of the subject matter by clarifying the relationships between elements, in this case, the relationships between digestive organs in a frog and the variables in the Pythagorean Theorem. 3D was the most popular modality for frog anatomy because its interactivity helped participants gain a deeper understanding of organ connectivity and the digestive pathway. 2D was the most popular modality for the Pythagorean Theorem because it demonstrated the relationships between variables in an easily understandable and visual way. And per our original hypotheses, participant preferences also seemed to reinforce individual learning styles and proclivity toward varying amounts of information (e.g., more or less detail). We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this informal study in the coming months and have also begun a similar study to learn more about the usability of Mathshare. For more details about the findings of the tactile or math studies please contact lisaw[at]Benetech[dot] org.