[Maths-Education] Re: ICT in mathematics
Boylan, Mark S
M.S.Boylan at shu.ac.uk
Wed Mar 9 10:01:28 GMT 2011
I am reminded of a situation that arose when I was working as part of a team on a project. Someone in the team had been assigned to find mean averages from a frequency table and use a spreadsheet to produce charts from this.
I noticed that the data presented on the charts were given to an inappropriate degree of accuracy so I checked the spreadsheet seeking to make slight modification to address this. I found that all of the data in the spreadsheet was disconnected. None of the cells were linked. No formula functions had been used. However the averages were 'correct' - although presented to more decimal places than could be justified by the initial data.
When I (gently) discussed this with the team member responsible for the charts it emerged that they had calculated the averages from the frequency tables with pencil and paper and calculator. They had then manually entered the data into the spreadsheet. This had taken them many hours to do - a process that could have been done much more quickly if they had previously had the opportunity to learn about the mathematical power of the spreadsheet . No doubt they had achieved the required grade C in GCSE (UK school exam taken at 16) and presumably answered the question on averages and frequency tables correctly.
Were they being let down by the curriculum and assessment regime in relation to mathematics and ICT - I would say so.
I am sure that colleagues have examples of their own that illustrate the multiple ways that
the ability to do and communicate mathematics cannot be separated from the tools used and the medium of communication.
Mark Boylan
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From: maths-education-bounces at lists.nottingham.ac.uk [mailto:maths-education-bounces at lists.nottingham.ac.uk] On Behalf Of Candia Morgan
Sent: 09 March 2011 09:07
To: Mathematics Education discussion forum
Cc: maths-education at lists.nottingham.ac.uk
Subject: [Maths-Education] Re: ICT in mathematics
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Or if someone needs pencil and paper to solve a problem they have learnt using pencil and paper not mathematics? Different media allow different forms of mathematical activity and thinking. Conventions and power (including assessments) determine which of the possible forms are valued.
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On 9 Mar 2011, at 09:03, "Alexandre Borovik" <alexandre.borovik at gmail.com> wrote:
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>
> On 08/03/2011 14:36, Tandi Clausen-May wrote:
>> If the assessment required pupils to use Geogebra or Autograph to do some
>> mathematics then they would probably be more successful if they had learnt
>> some mathematics using these tools, so ICT would have 'a positive impact on
>> attainment in mathematics'. But the assessments do not require this, so the
>> evidence is hard to find.
>
> I dare to suggest that if a student needs particular software (say,
> Autograph) to answer a mathematical question, this means that he or she
> has learnt Autograph, not mathematics. Also, why not accept that if "the
> evidence is hard to find" then perhaps it does not exist?
>
> IMHO, the ability to do and to communicate mathematics should not depend
> on the medium of communication. If it is dependent than something is
> wrong it the way students are taught.
>
> Alexandre
>
> --
> Professor Alexandre Borovik * University of Manchester
> Web: http://www.maths.manchester.ac.uk/~avb/
> Wordpress: http://micromath.wordpress.com/
> Academia: http://manchester.academia.edu/AlexandreBorovik
>
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