Student Teachers' Understanding about the Use of a Computer Software in the Representation and Teaching of Linear Functions
Mohan Chinnappan
National Key Centre for School Science and Mathematics
Curtin University
of Technology
Australia
rchinnap@alpha2.curtin.edu.au
Abstract
Research in the use of computers as a vehicle to promote mathematical learning has focussed its attention on the appropriate use of the technology in the classroom. In this context, the teacher in the classroom is the primary agent in exposing students to the new environment created by the introduction of computer technology. Thus, in order for the students to derive maximum benefit from the technology the teacher must be skilful in handling the relevant softwares in ways that would facilitate students becoming informed about and confident with the use of the various parts of the softwares. A key component of this skill involves mathematical knowledge and its various representations, knowledge about the softwares and the integration of these sets of knowledge.
The above argument suggests that a useful way to examine the question of how well do teachers utilise computer softwares in their teaching is to analyse their knowledge base. This study is concerned with examining the knowledge base of mathematics student teachers when they were trained in the use of a particular software, ANUGraph, and subsequently required to show how they would utilise the software in the teaching of a range of mathematical ideas including linear functions. Student teachers' ability at using ANUGraph flexibly and appropriately was analysed in terms of three areas of knowledge: knowledge of mathematical concepts and procedures, knowledge of nature of their students and how they learn the mathematics, knowledge of the software and its exploitation in promoting learning. Preliminary results suggest that student teachers do not integrate the above three components of knowledge well enough to promote deeper levels of understanding about linear functions among their students.
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