"Federal Study Finds No Edge for Students Using Technology-Based Reading and Math Products" - By Andrew Trotter

From MathWiki

This article is an interesting article to read - it takes a different spin on some of the ideas we have been thinking about (especially within the MATH 4100 course). This will be a personal reflection/response after reading about the study.

[1] (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/04/04/32software_web.h26.html?qs=federal+Study)

A few questions that arose for me while reading this article were:

Why did the researchers choose to only impliment the mathematics technology in the areas of algebra?

Every area of mathematics is different. Therefore, when the title generalizes the study to mathematics education, one must consider the fact that perhaps technology might not make a difference for a standardized test on algebra, but the effectiveness of technology for geometry (for example) is profound! It would be interesting to see whether the study would have had different results if the study had used a different strand of mathematics. I feel as though these types of studies are the ones which hinder the hard work put in by researchers like us who work so hard at developing and studying mathematical technologies.

Also, if the study "found no difference in academic achievement between students who used the technology in their classrooms and youngsters who used other methods," then why would it be the case that, "nearly all the teachers said they would use the products again."?(Trotter, 2007)

I think that this is an extremely interesting factor to take into consideration when thinking about the implications of this study. Perhaps there were no differences in results of the standard tests given to the students, but if the teachers themselves felt that they would want to use the technology again for future teaching, this must say something about their comfort level, appreciation and acceptance of technology within the classroom.

If studies like these have the power to influence the federal budget on funding for educational tools, materials and technology, we must remember to not over generalize the study into the very BROAD topics of Reading and Mathematics. Rather, we must seriously consider major studies, such as this one, and analyse the validity and impacts of its results.

Some comments from Walter

Even if there is not difference in learning, if there is a different motivation / engagement, I would anticipate teachers would want to use it again. On the other hand, all the evidence is that using technology requires more planning, more prior work, and more intensive engagement than not using technology. So, with the added barriers of lack of access, there needs to be some positive feedback to 'want to use it again'!

I would also second the comment that 'technology in mathematics' should not be defined by technology for algebra and pre-algebra. These are not easy places to design good technology for. Geometry would have been a reasonable alternative place, particularly in terms of 'visualization'. I do visualize intensively in algebra - so it would be valuable to see what visual appearances / affordances the programs offered.