Pre-service elementary mathematics teachers’ views about using graphing calculators in elementary school algebra: the case of using Classpad

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2011
Kaplan, Merve
Mathematics education could and should benefit from technology in order to improve teaching and learning, particularly in topics where visualizations and connections to other concepts are needed. Handheld technologies such as graphing calculators can provide students with visualization, confirmation and exploration of problems and concepts they are learning. Handheld graphing technologies have been taken place widely in elementary and secondary level mathematics courses and considered to be beneficial in various means in mathematics education. Mathematics teachers have a crucial role in the use of GCs in mathematics classrooms. Therefore, pre-service teachers’ use of GCs and their views on the use of the tool in mathematics learning are considered to be valuable. The purpose of this study was to investigate the difficulties pre-service elementary mathematics teachers face, and the benefits and constraints they emphasize while learning elementary school algebra through using the Casio Classpad after receiving an instruction with graphing calculators. The graphing calculator used in the present study is the Casio Classpad 330, which is an evolved handheld device combining features of graphing calculators, dynamic geometry environment, computer algebra systems and more. The following two research problems guided the study: What are the difficulties do pre-service elementary mathematics teachers face while using Classpad in learning elementary school algebra after receiving an instruction with graphing calculators? What benefits and constraints do pre-service elementary mathematics teachers emphasize while learning elementary school algebra through using Classpad after receiving an instruction with graphing calculators? With the aim of investigating the views of a group of pre-service elementary mathematics teachers, qualitative research strategies were used. The data was collected and analyzed by means of a case study design. Classroom observations, a questionnaire, and focus group interviews were the main data sources of the existing study. The study was carried out with 21 pre-service elementary mathematics teachers. In the classroom studies elementary level algebra was taught to the participants with the use of Classpad as a main tool by giving one tool to each of the participants. Classroom observations ended in five weeks – 20 courses – including one week of a training period. After the classroom observations, participants filled out a questionnaire including five open-ended questions about the classroom studies. Finally, data collection procedure was ended with three focus group interviews. The data was analyzed with qualitative means by transcribing and analyzing the observation records, answers of the questionnaire, and records of the three interviews. Results revealed that pre-service teachers’ view Classpad in three categories; as a personal tool, as an educational tool, and the relationship between CP and motivation. They viewed CP as a personal tool that they were eager to use the tool in every level of mathematics from elementary to mastering degrees. As an educational tool, they preferred to use the tool as a teacher by giving some cautions that teachers and students should be careful with. Lastly, they considered that the tool has a positive effect on motivation when used appropriately. Pre-service elementary mathematics teachers faced some difficulties in the beginning courses of the classroom studies which was their learning period of how to use CP and they overcome most of the difficulties at the end of the classroom studies. As the new elementary school level mathematics curriculum encourages the use of various technologies in teaching and learning of mathematics, the results of this study will have useful implications for mathematics teachers and curriculum developers.

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Citation Formats
M. Kaplan, “Pre-service elementary mathematics teachers’ views about using graphing calculators in elementary school algebra: the case of using Classpad,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2011.