Bridging Visual Perception and Math Education is crucial to student understanding of mathematical concepts. In this episode of Tier 1 Interventions, hosts Cheri Dotterer and Jonily Zupancic explore how visual representations, specifically dots, can bridge the gap between abstract mathematical concepts and students’ understanding.

The Struggle with Visual Perception in Math Education

One of the significant challenges discussed is the disconnect between students’ visual perception and their understanding of mathematical concepts. Cheri emphasizes that this misalignment often leads to false negatives, where students appear to struggle with math not because they lack understanding but because they can’t translate their knowledge onto paper.

Jonily elaborates on this by sharing various classroom examples. She highlights how students use dots to represent equations and the common difficulties they encounter. For instance, a student named Jason struggled to mimic a pattern accurately, demonstrating how fine motor skills and visual perception impact mathematical performance.

The Role of Occupational Therapy

Cheri emphasizes incorporating mathematical symbols and concepts into occupational therapy sessions. She explains that understanding the placement and representation of symbols, like the division sign, can significantly aid students in grasping mathematical concepts. This approach not only supports their learning of math but also enhances their overall cognitive development.

Visuals as a Tool for Memory and Retention

Purple X –
What the students were copying

Jonily and Cheri discuss the importance of repetition and visual aids in improving students’ memory and retention. They explain that neurodevelopmentally, students need numerous interactions with a concept to retain it effectively. Visuals, like dot patterns, play a crucial role in this process by providing a concrete representation of abstract ideas.


Real-World Applications:

The episode also touches on real-world applications of these techniques. Jonily shares a study where incorporating treadmills in a special education classroom significantly improved students’ math scores. This example underscores the importance of innovative educational approaches that cater to students’ diverse needs.


In conclusion, the episode illuminates the vital role of visuals in math education. Educators and therapists can create effective teaching strategies by understanding and addressing the disconnect between visual perception and mathematical concepts. Tune in to the latest Tier 1 Interventions Podcast episode for more insights and practical tips.

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