Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research
Waikato Home Waikato Home  >  WMIER  >  Research  >  Enhancing teaching and learning of primary mathematics through the use of apps Staff + Students Login |  - Logout

Enhancing teaching and learning of primary mathematics through the use of apps

Research Team: Nigel Calder and Carol Murphy

Project Dates: 2015 - 2017

Partnerships: Tahatai Coast Primary School and Te Akau Ki Papamoa Primary School

The focus of the project is on teaching and learning primary mathematics through the use of apps with mobile digital devices. It seeks to advance and investigate the use of apps in primary mathematics classrooms, and their influence on students' mathematical learning. The team will co-construct a framework to evaluate and inform teaching decisions about the use of apps to enhance students' conceptual understanding. The framework will then support teacher professional learning and development in mathematics pedagogy.

Why is this research important?

Today’s primary school learners appear to be engaged by mobile technology. Even so, just allowing learners access to mobile technology in the classroom situation is not sufficient, and research is needed to examine how apps can be used effectively to enhance understanding in mathematics. There is evidence that digital technology has a positive impact on learning behaviour, motivation and engagement. Through co-inquiry based on a researcher-practitioner partnership in two primary schools, this project is co-constructing a framework to evaluate and inform teacher pedagogical decisions regarding the use of apps to enhance students’ conceptual understanding in mathematics.

What is the background to the project?

The aim of the project is to support teachers in improving the teaching and learning of mathematics. The primary focus of the project is on teaching and learning primary mathematics through the use of apps with mobile digital devices. Specifically, the project aims to use the lens of teachers’ technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) to advance and investigate the use of apps in primary mathematics classrooms, and their influence on students’ mathematical learning.

What are the key findings to date?

A key finding is that while the mobile technologies offer particular affordances, such as haptic and aural-visio recording of student thinking, that shape the mathematics learning in distinctive ways, it appears that an assemblage of technological and social elements are required to best enhance the mathematics engagement, learning and mathematical thinking.

What are the most important facts to take away so far?

We have identified several key themes regarding the relationship between technology and pedagogy: affordances, engagement, mathematical thinking, personalised and differentiated learning and collaborative learning.  While the affordances of mobile technologies allow the mathematics learning to be reshaped and engaged with in alternative ways, it seems that it is the pedagogy of the teacher that is central for enhanced learning to take place.

This 2-year project has been funded by the Teaching & Learning Research Initiative (TLRI).

Key project publications:

Presentations at academic and teacher symposia.
Paper accepted for ICME 2016 conference presentation and proceedings.
Paper accepted for DEANZ 2016 conference presentation and proceedings.

Submit Research

WMIER is the Research Institute of the Faculty of Education

Research Institute Scholarships

University of Waikato Research Institute scholarships: Applications are closed for 2015.