Use Your Title IID Funding Wisely: Adding Technology to Geometry Class Improves Opportunities to Learn

Bring technology into the classroom with Curriculum Mastery GamesAccording to a new study, incorporating technology in high school-level geometry classes not only makes the teaching of concepts such as congruency easier, it also empowers students to discover other geometric relationships they wouldn’t ordinarily uncover when more traditional methods of instruction were used.

The study — co-written by Gloriana González, a University of Illinois expert in math education, and Patricio G. Herbst, of the University of Michigan — analyzed how students solved geometry problems over four days, with two days spent using static diagrams and the other two with dynamic diagrams drawn using a calculator with dynamic geometry software.

González said when students used dynamic geometry software they were more successful in discovering new mathematical ideas than when they used static, paper-based diagrams.

“There’s been a big push to have teachers use technology in the classroom, and there’s a lot of incentives for them to use it, the chief one being the motivation kids get from using technology,” González said. “But the powerful thing is that integrating technology in the classroom allows teachers to provide students more opportunities for learning, which gets students thinking about mathematical ideas in a new light.”

The study showed that teachers like to use technology in the classroom not only because it’s stimulating for students, but also because it’s a more efficient use of resources for teachers. For example, instead of drawing 20 different diagrams on a chalkboard by hand, teachers can create one diagram on a computer and manipulate it using the dynamic geometry software. Without the software, the teacher is drawing 20 different variations of the same diagram, “which can get very boring very quickly,” González said.

“The technology allows teachers to do many things that they couldn’t ordinarily do or would be very hard to do by hand, such as call attention to a particular geometrical pattern or configuration that the students may not have seen otherwise,” she said.

But students shouldn’t get too excited: González said there’s no need for them to throw away the protractors and compasses just yet.

“What we found is that students who did things by hand, although they didn’t formulate the same conjectures as when they used the dynamic geometry software, just having the experience with the manual tools really helped them to understand what happens when you try to do the same thing using the dynamic geometry software,” González said. “So there is some transference between the two.”

Sources: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Science Daily

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