The use of computer technology in secondary mathematics teaching in New Zealand schools : a survey of teachers.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Information technology development has driven many New Zealand educational initiatives. Projects have been undertaken, and strategies released to integrate computers into classroom teaching and learning processes. Pre-eminent among them was Interactive Education: An Information and Communication Technologies Strategy for Schools setting out a 'National Strategy' for integrating computer technology in schools. Other initiatives included: (a) The New Zealand Curriculum Framework, released in 1993, defining official policy for teaching, learning and assessment in New Zealand schools. (b) The statement of Mathematics in New Zealand Curriculum (MiNZC) (c) Information Technology Professional Development (ITPD) initiative to fund schools to organise and manage their own training and development. (d) Financial Assistance Scheme (PAS) to provide schools with at least half of the cost of approved cabling projects for local area networking, and (e) NetDay to provide practical help for schools wanting to create local area network. Extensive funds were allocated to implement these and other projects and initiatives. However there is a need for further research to reveal to what extent teachers of mathematics and other subjects are actually making use of computers. This is because since the release of the National Strategy no nationwide studies, specifically related to mathematics, have been carried out to investigate the achievement of its goals in the field of secondary mathematics teaching. Now, three years later, this present research attempts to fill that gap, and to provide government, educators, and all concerned people with deeper insight into current practice and application of computer use in the daily teaching of secondary mathematics. This research aims to contribute towards a solid foundation for further research and future planning. This research attempts to answer these questions: - To what extent and for what purposes are computers being used in secondary mathematics teaching? - How do teachers envision the use of computers in the classroom teachinglearning process? This research explores consistency between computer usage and Ministry goals as stated in MiNZC and other official statements on Information and Communication Technologies in teaching and learning. This research reveals that actual use of computers in classroom processes for the teaching and learning of mathematics remains small, comprising less than 1% of actual teaching time. Their use tends to be devoted to extending or practising pre-taught material, and serves mostly the statistics strand within the curriculum. Students seem to have unequal opportunities for use of computers. Junior students' teachers are, in general, more likely to use computers than senior students' teachers. The higher thinking mathematical process skills such as reasoning, exploring and discovering are unlikely to playa vital role in the use of computers. Results also indicate that a large majority of teachers have positive attitudes and perceive a constructive role for computers in the teaching of classroom mathematics. However, they remain cautious and are mindful of barriers to computer usage such as hardware availability, accessibility, software suitability, and professional training. The Ministry of Education hopes to achieve several goals from its computer initiatives. The most important of these is to provide opportunities for students to gain confidence and become competent users of computers in mathematical contexts to prepare them for a technology permeated future. On present evidence this goal is not currently being achieved in many classrooms. In summary, this research indicates that the use of computers in classroom teaching of mathematics is not fully meeting the governments' goals. To clarify and overcome obstacles, and to align classroom practice in using computers to teach mathematics with government goals, still requires further research, debate, cooperation, and determination.