The Social Unit of Learning project investigates the social interactions that characterise learning processes in a mathematics classroom. This project is part of a broader research program addressing the question: What is the social nature of learning? The Social Unit of Learning project used the facilities of the laboratory classroom equipped with 10 built-in cameras and up to 32 audio channels to record the interactions of an intact class of students (20 to 26 students per class) and their teacher as they engaged in purposefully developed mathematical activities.

A pilot study was conducted with Science of Learning Research Centre funding provided by the Australian Research Council Special Initiatives Grant (ARC-SR120300015). A typical investigative session took 50 to 60 minutes, where students attempted tasks individually, in pairs, and in groups of four to six. The sessions were designed to facilitate recordable (visible and audible) social interactions, necessitated by the obligation to solve mathematical tasks of various types. The rich and detailed data generated allows parallel analyses predicated on different theories.

In 2017, further funding was awarded by the Australian Research Council to expand the project to collaborate with Beijing Normal University in China (Project number DP170102540). Comparable data are being collected from classrooms in the Beijing district of China for cross cultural comparison.

Prof David Clarke and Prof CAO Yiming