Use of ICT in Mathematics Education

This is a summary of the article “Use of ICT in Mathematics Education in Singapore: Review of Research” By NG Wee Leng, LEONG Yew Hoong

INTRODUCTION

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has spread in almost every facet of lives including in educational institutes. In Singapore the education authorities have, over the last decade, taken concrete steps to encourage the use of computers to enhance teaching and learning. Implementation of this is done through two phases of master plan (MP1 and MP2). Target of MP1 is how students would have access to technology in learning. In the mathematics classroom, the goals of the MP1 translate into a vision of “integration of ICT to enhance the mathematical experience”. The aim of MP2 is to make effective use of a variety of mathematical tool in the learning and application of mathematics.

LOCAL RESEARCH ON USE OF ICT IN MATHEMATICS EDUCATION

In Singapore classrooms, there are technological change and increasing in the number of studies on the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of mathematics since implementation of MP1. The broad agendas of most local research directions are: ICT-use as a “better” way for teaching mathematics; ICT-use as a “better” way for learning mathematics and ICT-use in relation to other factors in the instructional environment.

ICT-USE AS A “BETTER” WAY FOR TEACHING MATHEMATICS

Some literatures that show how mathematics teaching can be better with the aid of particular features of relevant software when they are suitably harnessed:

  1. Tay (2004), a fictitious lottery game designed using Excel where 4-digit numbers can be easily generated using the software’s inherent random function. The use of Excel is better for the purpose of dispelling “near miss (a permutation of the same 4 digits)” myths in teaching because traditional equipment is incapable of producing quick and random generation of numbers afforded by the software.
  2. Wu (20002), the power of random-numbers generating in Excel is advantageous for replicating experiment-like conditions. Features of software can help simulate data and demonstrate it using statistical graph, like a bar chart, table or diagram mode. This is important in strengthen the connection between different representational modes in teaching.
  3. Wu and Wong (2007), design of computer-based activities for students help students to explore aspects of statistical graph. For example, Excel templates had helped the students extend their understanding of statistical graphs.
  4. Ang (2006) described about graphing software can help students solve differential equations easier than analytic method.
  5. Yu, Lam and Mok (2004) described about the use of hand-held graphing calculators in teaching the transformation of graphs and the sketching of polar curves. This can help students focus on the gestalt changes and features of the graphs.
  6. Ho (2002) and Ong (2002), this study related to type of computer program in dynamic geometry software (DGS), especially about sketchpad that used widely in Singapore school. Sketchpad helps students see the underlying geometrical relationships, moreover when conventional static drawing is difficult to be applied.
  7. Sketchpad is also used in the animation function as in the study of Toh (2004) and Leang and Tim-Teo (2003).

ICT-USE AS A “BETTER” WAY FOR LEARNING MATHEMATICS

A number of experimental studies were conducted to study the effects of ICT in term of students’s achievement scores.

  1. Lee and Pereira-Mendoza (2002) studied the impact of the Logo software in an intact Primary school 4 class. In the result of semester examinations, the percentage passes of students in the treatment class were ranked against those of other eight classes in the same grade level that did not have access to Logo.
  2. Yeo (2006) He investigated the effects of computer use on students’ learning of students’ procedural knowledge and logarithmic curves. The result was the treatment class did significantly better than the control class.
  3. Ong (2002) studied the use of Sketchpad. Significant treatment effects were found which “seemed to indicate that computer-based mode were instruction appeared to enhance the learning of angle properties of circle in terms of achievement (score)”.
  4. Ng (2004) utilized the TI-92 CAS graphing calculator in CAS Intervention Program (CASIP) for Secondary 3 students under a quasi-experimental design. The study did not confirm any advantages or disadvantages in the use of CAS calculators over scientific calculators. However, post-CASIP data showed that students in the TI-92 group had heightened interest in exploring mathematics concept and were pleased to be able to utilize the calculator.
  5. Several studies attempt to assess effects in the affective domain, for example at finding out students’ interest level and emotional responses with respect to learning in computer environment. Study of Ong (2002) related this showed there was no significant difference about interest on mathematics in general. Study by Yeo (2003) also found that there was no significant difference between the control and treatment groups. However, there was a moderate positive effect towards the use of computers in learning. Other studies related observing of student’s attitude in using features software are study by Ng (2005) and Ho (2002).

The obvious limitations to the studies reported above are mainly in the scale and the duration of research. These may partially explain why the researches gave mixed result. Nevertheless, while positive effects cannot be guaranteed, a common finding seems to be that thoughtful ICT use does not adversely affect students’ learning, at least in achievement scores and interest in Mathematics. Quality computer-based instruction certainly involves careful weaving of ICT tools together with other important components of successful teaching practice.

ICT-USE IN RELATION TO OTHER FACTORS IN THE INSTRUCTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

This part shifts the focus of inquiry away the technological tools and their effects to how these tools interact with other elements during the instructional process.

  1. Leong and Lim-Teo (2003) studied the relation between Sketchpad use and the instructional approach adopted in the classroom. The students were taught the same topics in transformation geometry, but Sketchpad was used differently in the three classes. Although the test scores did not reveal any significant differences in conventional achievement, there were differences between the responses of students. Students who used Sketchpad in a guided-inquiry and exploratory setting tended to develop stronger concept images of the underlying geometrical ideas. In other classes where the method of classroom instruction did not suitably harness the advantageous features of the technology, there was a comparative lack of depth in student’s learning.
  2. Some writers have highlighted the problems when ICT is viewed against the backdrop of other complex instructional issues. Ang (2006) surmised that although there are many ways IT can be utilized in classroom teaching, teachers are required to look into other aspects of teaching, such as examination-relevance.
  3. Technical glitches associated with ICT use is also not trivial problem. As in Chua’s (2006) study of students using video conferencing, lapses in hardware or software can cause considerably frustration to students and impinge on their learning when they are unable to keep up with a disrupted lesson. Therefore, the stability and robustness of computer systems is another important consideration when implementing technology-based lessons.
  4. ICT still be challenges for teacher. When they brings technological tools into the classrooms, there was more complex instructional than originally intended. Change in teaching learning activities can pose significant challenges for the teachers and the students too. Example related this case was study of Laborde (1999), Olive (1998), Yet, Leong and Lim-Teo (2002) about using of Sketchpad
  5. The close relation between ICT use and other complex instructional elements in teaching could explain why there is yet little evidence to suggest a widespread integration of information in Singapore classroom. Study by Leong (2003) about the use Sketchpad gave result that 33 out of the 44 teachers indicated that they had used Sketchpad at some parts in their teaching. They preferred teacher-controlled demonstration than mode of Sketchpad. Thus, the full power of Sketchpad and its potential to transform classroom into lab-like places for students’ inquiries were generally not realized among schools that participated in the survey. It leads to the general conclusion that ICT use may be less of “integration”.
  6. Another instructional element is the attitude of teachers towards ICT, as teachers’ beliefs about educational change directly affect implementation of new initiatives. To ascertain teachers’ attitude toward CAS, Ng (2003) developed a 40 item CAS Attitude Scale (CASAS). Ng also developed the Crucial Factors in the integration of ICT Survey (CFS). According to the result of his study, it gives some indications to the direction in which the overall environment for ICT integration needs to be developed. Ng also conducted a survey related to the importance of teacher’s professional development.

CONCLUSION

Growing of local researches on the use of ICT in the classroom also make growing of the use of ICT in mathematical education that have yet to be explored. Different results of researches are because of variety in contexts and specifics use of tools, group of students and teachers. Hence, there is still great potential for research in ICT implementation in actual classroom using wider contexts of other classroom variables. However, it’s virtually impossible to cover every facet of the field exhaustively although further study may be investigated. The use of ICT in the classroom needs initiative of teachers themselves to discover what is appropriate for their students. The aim, therefore, is not to provide students with a new “technology toy”, but rather to create opportunity for active learning that enable the development of a wide variety of content knowledge, skills, processes, and attitudes that they may bring with them into the real world.

Learning to Think and Thinking to Learn

This is a Summmary of the article ” Learning to Think and Thinking to Learn” By Kate Kline

Three questions to better understand about this article:

  1. How do teachers create a classroom environment where mathematical thinking is the focus?
  2. How do teachers help students who are having difficulty in explaining their thinking or making sense of task hand?
  3. What are positive impacts of learning environment by focusing on thinking?

This article discusses issues to consider when establishing a tone that encourages children to think during whole-group discussions, including addressing children’s diversity of thinking approaches and using their incorrect solutions. Besides it, this article gives examples of exchanges that may occur as teacher interact with students at work and suggest ways in which these interactions impact children’s developing notions of what it means to do mathematics.

Facilitating Whole-Group Discussion

A productive classroom environment can happen during whole-group discussions where students can be encouraged to share their solution methods, listen and ask questions, grapple with misconceptions, and probe and extend their thinking.

Addressing diversity of thinking

How students process information will be different between extroverts and introverts. Extroverts tend to process and think while they are talking. On the other hand, introverts must think carefully before speaking. This is often why introverts have difficulty participating in group discussion. Just when they are ready to contribute, the discussion may have move on. Cognitive processing certainly has ramifications for facilitating whole-group discussion and providing opportunities for voice to be heard. One technique to deal with this diversity is to encourage the class to work collaboratively. Hence, it’s expected that all students whether they are extroverts or introverts can share their solution method or idea.

Using incorrect solutions

Accepting incorrect answer or ideas as a natural part of doing mathematics and pursuing them in the same ways as correct solution can give powerful impact on young children’s thinking. The key is to use the same discussion techniques regardless of student’s response, so whether a student offers a correct or an incorrect solution, the responsibility for determining correctness then falls on the students. In this article is given example about how the teacher began the discussion with incorrect solution to encourage students to think more deeply about the problem’s meaning.

Questioning one another’s solutions

The most productive discussions around mathematical ideas seem to happen in classrooms where questioning is an almost spontaneous part of the way students talk to one another about their work. In this article is given an example where the students have been encouraged to develop their own procedures for computing. The teacher can make discussion by questioning students each time they have a solution method and asked other students if they have additional questions.

Then, discusses about the value of this questioning will helps everyone more deeply understand one another’s method.

Engaging with Children at Work

Keeping goal of the learning environment where thinking is placed at a premium can capitalize on moments to extent thinking when engaging with students while they work.

Suggesting a strategy

When trying to assist struggling students, many of the teachers attempt to alleviate their frustration over a puzzling solution by suggesting a previously discussed efficient strategy. However, this approach may have some negative ramifications on the learning environment. To overcome this matter, a teacher can encourage students to develop procedures for computing that make sense to them rather than first learning the standard algorithm involving borrowing across place value. This will give opportunity for students to learn from one another and exchange their way of thinking to find the correct solution.

Allowing time to develop understanding

Young children can’t always directly find the right solution in some situations. One of things that make them can’t do it is they haven’t had enough knowledge about it. In this case, teachers can encourage them and guide them to the right solution using questions. By allowing time for them to think, they might develop their understanding of the problems types and solutions. In addition, students also can develop notions of what it means to do mathematics and emerge their ideas.

Reflect and Discuss

Reflective teaching is a process of self-observation and self-evaluation. The author gives questions related to “Learning to Think and Think to Learn” as suggested prompt to aid teachers in reflecting on the article and on how the author’s idea might benefit for practicing in their own class.

Concluding Remarks

In the conclusion, the author gives some points how learning environment is implemented through center children’s instruction on thinking for themselves, use their struggles, encourage ownership of their learning, and embrace their natural inquisitiveness. Presented ideas for facilitating whole-group discussion and engaging with children work while they work help establish conditions where thinking is valued as the avenue toward learning. Maintaining a consistent focus on thinking is not easy. It requires formal, deliberate reflection on the impact of specific instructional moves. However, by combining such analysis with a commitment to learning through thinking gives positive impacts like children are willing to take risks and think their way through whatever challenges they encounter.

Read the complete article here Learning to Think and Thinking to Learn

Beasiswa International Master Program on Mathematics Education (IMPoME) 2011

Bagi mahasiswa yang sudah menyelesaikan S1 Matematika (pendidikan ataupun murni) serta dosen Matematika perguruan tinggi baik negeri maupun swasta, terdapat kesempatan untuk melanjutkan S2 (Master) melalui Beasiswa International Master Program on Mathematics Educations (IMPoME).

Program  ini merupakan hasil kerjasama  Utrecth University (Belanda), Unesa, dan Unsri dengan beasiswa Dikti (selama di Indonesia) dan Neso (selama di Belanda). Batas akhir pendaftaran untuk beasiswa IMPoME tahun ketiga (2011)  hingga 31 Desember 2010.  Untuk informasi lengkapnya adalah sebagai berikut:

A consortium among University of Utrecht, the Netherlands and Surabaya State University (Unesa) and Sriwijaya University (Unsri) in Palembang, provides an opportunity for the Lecturers or the Candidates of New Academic Staff or (CTAB), and the teachers of mathematics with a sarjana degree in mathematics education or sarjana degree in mathematics to join International Master Program on Mathematics Education.
The program will be carried out for a period of 2 years and 2 months which is divided into 3 stages, namely 8 months in Indonesia (Unesa or Unsri), 1 year in the Netherlands (University of Utrecht), and 6 months for research and thesis writing in Indonesia.
The scholarship for the period of studying in Indonesia for the Lecturers or  CTAB (not including teachers) will be provided by Ditjen Pendidikan Tinggi Depdiknas (BPPS) while the period in the Netherlands will be funded by StuNed.

The eligibility of candidates are as follows:
• a citizen of Indonesia;
• minimum education is S1 in the field of mathematics education or mathematics with a Cumulative Index of Achievement or I.P.K. of at least 3.0;
• minimum 2 years work experience in the field of mathematics or has been
formally appointed by the rector as a lecturer in the institution as a CTAB;
• being ready to join and finish all classes during the period of scholarship;
• has TOEFL score (ITP TOEFL is preferable) at least 475;
• being in healthy condition;
• not in the process of studying abroad in the period of the last 2 years;
• on the  1st of December 2011, the candidate’s age is no more than 40 years old for men, and 45 years old for women.

Deadline: The last date for registration: 31th of  December 2010.

Download Application Form 2011, CV, Brosur, and STUNED Form IMPoME 2011.
All of the completed documents should be sent to:
Prof. R.K. Sembiring, IP-PMRI, Gedung Basic Sciences Center A
ITB, Jln. Ganesha 10 Bandung 40132. or by e-mail (zulkardi@unsri.ac.id or metricas@bdg.centrin.net.id)

The announcement will be posted on the website http://www.pmri.or.id and all participants who are qualified will be directly contacted. The commencement of classes will be in May 2011 which is initiated by an intensive course of English. In case the candidates cannot fulfill all of the specified requirements to go to the Netherlands, they may continue their regular S2 studies at Unesa or Unsri.
Contact Person (sms):
Zulkardi Unsri(+628127106777)

Agung Lukito Unesa (+628165428611)

Martha IP-PMRI (+628164202261)