Research on Technology in Mathematics Education: Theoretical Frameworks and Practical Examples


Research on Technology in Mathematics Education: Theoretical Frameworks and Practical Examples

Keynote Address to be presented at the

Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics Conference

Seoul, South Korea

November 12th, 2011


We now live in the 21st century, although you might not realize that fact if you were a student sitting in a “typical” mathematics class in most rural or urban school districts in the USA. Outside of school, technology tools and their applications are an integral part of modern life. We use and depend on them for entertainment, information, communication, transportation, commerce, research, comfort, shelter, safety, food production, medical treatment, as well as creative, self-expression and social networking.

At the beginning of the 21st Century in the USA, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) made a very strong recommendation for the integration of technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics by including the Technology Principle as one of the six principles that frame the NCTM Principles & Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000).  The Technology Principle states: “Technology is essential in teaching and learning mathematics; it influences the mathematics that is taught and enhances students' learning.”  This strong claim has research evidence to support it but more research is needed to understand the affordances and constraints that affect this principle’s implementation, both inside and outside of formal school settings.

The available technologies for teaching and learning, both in and out of school have expanded tremendously during the first decade of this century.  Alongside computers and calculators we have iPods, iPhones, and now iPads; hand-held computing devices such as the TI-nSpire (which operates more like a computer than a calculator); networked calculators; wireless response systems; scientific probes that can be connected to hand-held devices or computers for generating real data in real time (CBL’s and CBR’s); Interactive SMART Boards and now, interactive SMART Tables for collaborative problem solving activities.  The explosion in web-based resources for finding information, for social networking, for entertainment and for collaborative problem solving in on-line communities has changed the way we live our lives – outside of school.  Perhaps one powerful reason for why almost a third of the students entering high schools in this country “drop out” before completing their high school diploma (Gonzalez, 2010) is that education in many schools is presented in the same way as it was in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The educational process in school bares little resemblance to how people learn outside of school.

As educators, we need to investigate how children and young adults are making use of the technological environment in which they live and what they are learning from that use. As mathematics educators, we need to understand how we might harness this technological environment to enhance the learning and teaching of mathematics – both in-school and out-of-school.