Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Technology and Learning

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Technology and Learning

Article excerpt

A new study cowritten by a University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign expert in math education suggests that incorporating technology in high school--level geometry classes not only makes the teaching of concepts such as congruency easier, it also empowers students to discover other geometric relationships they would not ordinarily uncover when more traditional methods of instruction are used. Gloriana Gonzalez, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that when students in her study used dynamic geometry software, they were more successful in discovering new mathematical ideas than when they used static, paper-based diagrams.

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The study, published in the International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, analyzed how students solved geometry problems over four days, with two days spent using static diagrams and the other two with dynamic diagrams drawn using a calculator with dynamic geometry software. "There's been a big push to have teachers use technology in the classroom, and there's a lot of incentives for them to use it, the chief one being the motivation kids get from using technology," Gonzalez says. "But the powerful thing is that integrating technology in the classroom allows teachers to provide students more opportunities for learning, which gets students thinking about mathematical ideas in a new light."

Gonzalez, who cowrote the study with Patricio G. Herbst, of the University of Michigan, says that teachers like to use technology in the classroom not only because it is stimulating for students, but also because it is a more efficient use of resources for teachers. For example, instead of drawing 20 different diagrams on a chalkboard by hand, teachers can create one diagram on a computer and manipulate it using the dynamic geometry software.

Without the software, the teacher is drawing 20 different variations of the same diagram, "which can get very boring very quickly," Gonzalez says. "The technology allows teachers to do many things that they couldn't ordinarily do or would be very hard to do by hand, such as call attention to a particular geometrical pattern or configuration that the students may not have seen otherwise. …

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