Investigating the Effects of Using Spreadsheets in a Collaborative Learning Environment

Sabita M. D''Souza
smdsouza@it.uts.edu.au
Dept of Mathematical Sciences
University of Technnology
Faculty of IT, P.O.Box 123, Broadway
Australia

Leigh N. Wood
leigh@maths.uts.edu.au
Dept of Mathematical Sciences
University of Technology
Faculty of IT, P.O.Box 123, Broadway
Australia

Abstract

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is one of the most promising ideas to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics with the help of information technology. However, despite the rapid increase in the use of technology in mathematics education over the last decade or so, the number of studies investigating the effects of its use in schools has been surprisingly low. The reality seems to be that the integration of technology into mathematics curriculum at secondary school is not widespread.

The introduction of technology into mathematics instruction raises new possibilities for teaching and learning. International as well as national curriculum documents have pointed out that computers can be a valuable tool in the enhancement and representation of mathematical concepts. They also stress the importance of utilising technology to allow students to explore mathematics. The study of attitudes toward using computers in mathematics learning has a relatively short but intensive history when compared to studies investigating attitudes toward mathematics in general. The emphasis has tended to be toward interaction with technology rather than on its use in particular learning contexts.

In response to this, we have designed teaching materials that use computer spreadsheets in the learning of algebraic concepts at secondary school, particularly in the area of Financial Mathematics. We have designed a study that compares technology-based instruction with equivalent pencil-and-paper based instruction via quantitative and qualitative analysis.

This paper will present a brief literature review, the materials used as well as the methodology and design of the study.


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