Design-based mathematics workshops

Lu Xiao, Immaculate Namukasa, Yibing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a workshop model for engaging children and parents in mathematics activities in public libraries or other informal education settings. Design/methodology/approach – This paper explores a workshop model for helping the school-aged children learn mathematics outside the school. The model includes five workshop sessions and designs the parent’s role in the mathematics activities. Each workshop session has both a mathematics task activity and a user interface design activity. The model was implemented in a major Canadian city and a major Chinese city over a period of one month. This paper presents the workshop attendees’ experiences and their feedback on the workshop design. It also presents several suggestions on the design of such workshops. Findings – The parents acknowledged that they learned about how mathematics is currently taught in schools and appreciated the opportunities to interact with their children in the workshops. The children participated in the workshops actively and enjoyed the design sessions the most. The potential of using design activities to help children learn mathematics concepts is recognized. Research limitations/implications – The findings suggest that future workshops should provide a structure to the parents’ engagement in design activities, offer one design project that spans several design sessions and set aside time for families to mingle and share experiences with each other. A big limitation of this paper is the small sample size – 12 families participated in the workshops on each site. Although the paper offered rich data about the participants’ experiences, a larger sample would have made the findings more generalizable and conclusive. Practical implications – Computer technologies such as iPad and tablets are increasingly common as public library resources; yet the integration of these technologies into library programs is falling behind. This paper offers one example of how such integration can bring benefits to the patrons, encouraging more considerations to be put on this aspect in library practice. Originality/value – Although many programs are offered in public libraries that facilitate children to learn mathematics concepts, very less research has been reported on the design of these programs. In addition, the existing programs have not considered the inclusion of parent–child design activities for mathematics learning engagement. This paper reports an empirical study that addresses these research gaps. The encouraging results call for more investigations on this workshop model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-157
Number of pages20
JournalNew Library World
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 14 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Child and youth service
  • Digital games for mathematics
  • Mathematics workshop
  • Parent–child design activities
  • Workshop design
  • Workshop evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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