THE IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES ON MATHEMATICS DIDACTICS: A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY
The interaction between “information and communication technology” and teachers is neither obvious nor easy, as it involves a challenge in balancing the use of mental, paper-and-pencil and digital tools both in assessment and teaching activities.
Such a problem was approached by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) in a study of 1985, focused on the influence of computers and Informatics on Mathematics and its teaching methods. Thirty years after this pioneering work, in our research we investigate whether the imposing development of technologies is matched by a similar development in the way of using them in the teaching of Mathematics (with respect to high-school education).
Through a statistical survey, led simultaneously in high-schools of Italy and Spain, we asked both teachers and students about how they would usecomputers and interactive-boards during Mathematics lessons. The second part of the research concerns what students think of the new technologies: how they perceive the use of these tools and how their learning and studies are affected by them.
The questionnaires were open-questions ones, and were offered in the respondents' native language. This is important for many reasons: first, a questionnaire with open answer is more flexible than a multiple choice one, and respondents are free to express their thoughts; moreover, using the respondents' native language allows them to express themselves fully, articulating their opinions without the constraints necessarily placed from expressing in a foreign language. The expressive richness facilitated by the use of the mother tongue is especially important in the idea, which we had from the beginning, to make comparative analyses in a quantitative way, through the use of the software Tlab. The questionnaires were distributed, and the answers collected, via Google format: such tool allows the respondents to fill their questionnaires directly on line, through the appropriate link. Moreover, it enables the interviewer to completely eliminate the physical collection of the completed questionnaires, and above all the phase of transcription of data in electronic format, proving to greatly simplify the data collection process.
Once collected the completed questionnaires, we carried out a qualitative analysis of the answers provided, and then a comparative analysis, quantitative, carried out with the support of the software Tlab. The qualitative analysis was aimed to establish the attitude of the respondents to the application of new technologies in teaching (definitely adverse, adverse, indifferent, favorable, very favorable), the amount of known and used mathematical software, the teachers’ mastery of IT supports and the popularity of the same supports among the students. The quantitative analysis, through practices such as the identification of typical/exclusive specificities, word associations, correspondence analysis, thematic analysis of elementary contexts, allowed us to create a more complete picture, and perform detailed comparative analyses (eg teachers vs. students, Italian vs. Spanish respondents, etc.)
In our talk we will exhibit the outcomes of those analyses, seeking to reach some provisional conclusion, to be tested through future trials, whose guidelines will be outlined.