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Outline of the RITEMATHS project

Full Title: Enhancing mathematics achievement and engagement by using technology to support real problem solving and lessons of high cognitive demand.

Aims and Background

With our school industry partners, we worked to create and implement a curriculum that uses technology to link mathematics to the real world for the middle secondary years. The focus was the mathematics of change and variation, a general theme which underpins much of the curriculum but most especially algebra. Two types of hot-linked software were used together:

•  An exciting range of “real-world interfaces” which schools are only beginning to use. These include software enabling analysis of digital photos and video (e.g. of movement of a fair ground ride), dynamic control of simulations, and data logging devices.

•  “Maths analysis tools” (i.e. spreadsheets, function graphing software, and computer algebra systems (CAS), on both calculators and computers) which work with abstract mathematical representations. The first two of these are now firmly established in schools; the last is now the subject of experimentation around the world.

The broad aim of this project was to discover effective ways to use technology to stimulate higher-order thinking in mathematics classrooms, in the context of using real world problems. There are three main research areas:

•  Context Theme. Can we use new technology to overcome some of the obstacles inherent in using real-world problems? Data logging and multimedia can bring a virtual world into the classroom for analysis, and the maths analysis tools can provide easy calculation and graphing.

•  Algebra theme. How can CAS enhance what can be done with real problem solving in ordinary school settings? Can learning algebra through real world problem situations provide more meaning for algebraic concepts?

•  Affordances theme. How do various features of technology assist students to use their insights from real world situations to support abstract thinking?

Overview of approach

This project attempted to engineer an innovative educational environment. Partner-teachers in the schools created or modified new learning tasks that worked in practice in their own settings. We then used successive “development cycles” of design-implement-evaluate-redesign to create well-tested units of work which are likely to be robust across a variety of settings because of the range of school partners. The whole team identifed curriculum topics likely to benefit from intervention and worked together to create units of work incorporating new approaches and technology. The units of work were trialled initially with strong support from the researchers, and refined for further trialling in other schools. The research team undertook intensive evaluation to examine the working of these units in detail.

Sample software and hardware

  • Graphics calculators, including with CAS.

  • TI-Interactive! (computer-based CAS with powerful presentation capabilities)

  • Geometer's Sketchpad or Cabri Geometry- powerful geometry software.

  • Data logging devices such as TI Calculator Based Laboratory to measure physical quantities such as temperature, position, speed, light intensity etc.

  • Java Mathworlds -SIMCALC A simulation environment involving direct control of a position/velocity function as a means of manipulating virtual physical phenomena.

  • GridPic, developed by Luther College, to gather data from digital images and to superimpose algebraic functions.

  • Measurement in Motion is a computer program that allows users to define measurements on QuickTime movies and then analyse them with hot-linked graphs etc. A variety of alternative products will be evaluated, since this is an area where significant development is occurring.

  • Vidshell Free download software which may be used digitally analyse small video clips. Allows data collection for further analysis usign alternative software such as Excel.
  • Digitise Image Free download software which may be used locate and mark points on a digital image..Allows data collection for further analysis usign alternative software such as Excel.

 




For information about this page, contact: Kaye Stacey
Contact Email Address: k.stacey@unimelb.edu.au
Department Homepage: http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/sme/
Faculty Homepage: www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/
Last modified: Fri 21 September 2012

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