Ruba Tayoun

Using graphing programs to enhance the development of mathematical investigations

Integrating technology into mathematics teaching practices is considered as principal in mathematics education. This is assured by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) (as cited in Garofalo & Summers, 2004, p. 89) which allocated the Technology Principle as one of the six principles that identify a high quality mathematics education.

Mathematical investigation is an area where technology can be integrated in a way that enhances students’ learning of mathematics and saves effort and time if teachers use it strategically and efficiently. Graphing calculators and graphing software such as Geometer’s Sketchpad, Fathom, GeoGebra and Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 can act as an efficient visual tool that provides accurate graphs of equations and functions which helps to enhance students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and save students’ time when multiple graphs are needed through the process of investigation.

Ruthven (2014) and Drijvers, Doorman, Boon, Reed, and Gravemeijer (2010) acknowledged the importance of teachers’ role in the success of technology-aided teaching practices. Ruthven (2014) examined three frameworks to analyse teachers’ expertise in this field. The Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework and The Structuring Features of Classroom Practice framework were used to identify teachers’ role in the target topic. However, further study is needed for the next paper in order to provide a guide for secondary mathematics teachers that identify areas of curriculum where such type of tasks can be conducted and the way it can be implemented effectively.

A resource that targets new mathematics teachers at secondary schools is designed to prompt them to use graphing programs to facilitate the development of investigative tasks that are carried out in their classrooms. The rationale behind the resource is to transfer the “craft knowledge” gained by experienced teachers in the model described above to new teachers who are usually overwhelmed with the depth and huge amount of mathematical knowledge they encounter on one hand and with the challenge of integrating technology and modern pedagogies into their lessons on the other hand.

The resource consists of a theoretical and a practical part. The theoretical part emphasized the importance of using technology in classrooms using research evidence to demonstrate its impact on students. Then the vital role that graphing programs play in facilitating investigations was explained using demonstrations from research literature. The role of teachers was then explained indicating that teachers’ expertise has the most crucial influence on the successful integration of technology into teaching practices. The practical part included three ideas for applying the model accompanied by instructional tips for best implementation.