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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ang (2006) described about graphing software can help students solve differential equations easier than analytic method.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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”.
- 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.
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.