Using graphing software in algebra teaching

Kenneth Ruthven, Rosemary Deaney and Sara Hennesy have written an article that was published online in Educational Studies in Mathematics on Saturday. It is entitled: Using graphing software to teach about algebraic forms: a study of technology-supported practice in secondary-school mathematics. Besides having a focus on the use of graphing software, the article also discusses issues related to classroom teaching practice, teacher knowledge and teacher thinking. Here is the abstract of their article:

From preliminary analysis of teacher-nominated examples of successful technology-supported practice in secondary-school mathematics, the use of graphing software to teach about algebraic forms was identified as being an important archetype. Employing evidence from lesson observation and teacher interview, such practice was investigated in greater depth through case study of two teachers each teaching two lessons of this type. The practitioner model developed in earlier research (Ruthven & Hennessy, Educational Studies in Mathematics 49(1):47–88, 2002; Micromath 19(2):20–24, 2003) provided a framework for synthesising teacher thinking about the contribution of graphing software. Further analysis highlighted the crucial part played by teacher prestructuring and shaping of technology-and-task-mediated student activity in realising the ideals of the practitioner model. Although teachers consider graphing software very accessible, successful classroom use still depends on their inducting students into using it for mathematical purposes, providing suitably prestructured lesson tasks, prompting strategic use of the software by students and supporting mathematical interpretation of the results. Accordingly, this study has illustrated how, in the course of appropriating the technology, teachers adapt their classroom practice and develop their craft knowledge: particularly by establishing a coherent resource system that effectively incorporates the software; by adapting activity formats to exploit new interactive possibilities; by extending curriculum scripts to provide for proactive structuring and responsive shaping of activity; and by reworking lesson agendas to take advantage of the new time economy.

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