How ICT can be used in teaching Maths

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The objective behind data collection is to gather information on how ICT can be used in improving the teaching and learning process of Mathematics in the Mauritian context. The research was carried out amongst mathematics educators as well as students.

Information can be obtained from two sources namely primary and secondary data. Primary data refers to those that are compiled for the problem under the study and this data is collected by raising questionnaires and through direct interviews.

Secondary data refers to those, which have been gathered in the past for other purposes and that are already available and published. It can be internal and external sources of data. Internal source originates from the specific field in which the research is carried out such as official reports. External source originates outside the field of study like books, journals, newspapers and the Internet.

The findings for this dissertation will be obtained from a combination of research methods including questionnaires for and students, structured and unstructured interviews with mathematics educators, desk research and literature survey.

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The task of the literature survey was to sort through many publications dealing with the use of ICT to enhance the teaching and learning process in mathematics. It constituted a source of secondary data since reference has been made to books, texts, internet, magazines and journals written by authors on certain topics in particular. Yet making use of only secondary data proved to be insufficient.

As a result, primary data research was undertaken to gather additional information about how mathematics educators view the use of ICT towards enhancement in their teaching process and to show whether ICT adoption in teaching enhances the learning process of students in mathematics.

SAMPLE SIZE JUSTIFICATION

In this part of the study, survey based model was used. This study was fulfilled in secondary schools on mathematics educators and on students of different forms. The research was carried out on teaching staff of 20 and for this study, 20 itemed questionnaires were administered both online and in printed copies.

The target group for this study was mathematics educators enrolled in secondary schools, both private and state, during the school year 2010, from different zones across the country. The questionnaires were administered to 20 educators and were returned to be used in data analysis. For 25 students from different schools, both private and state, questionnaires were also made available. The sample sizes for both respondents were both selected in a deliberate and consciously controlled manner from population through convenience sampling due to limited time and access available to reach the respondents.

DATA COLLECTION TECHNIQUES

The main instrument used for data collection consists of questionnaire, for mathematics educators and students. They contain both open and close-ended questions. Questionnaire has been chosen as the major instrument for data collection due to the following reasons (Pasigpasigan, 2007):

Covers a large number of respondents,

Adequate time to fill in,

Anonymity is assured,

Respondents are more willing to answer truthfully,

Ease of tabulation and interpretation of collected data.

The framing of the questionnaire has been done in such a way that the objectives of the study are met and contain issues pertaining to the research questions set. Questions are set in a straightforward manner, using a clear language so as to encourage respondents to fill in the form without facing any ambiguity. The questions are concise enough to collect essential data while giving the respondent minimum writing to do. The teachers'

questionnaire will be distributed after an informal meeting with them. The nature and purpose of the research shall be clearly explained to them and they will be invited to collaborate since this is in direct relation with their work. No fixed time limit will be set but the teachers are expected to return the questionnaires within one month.

Data collected were analysed to answer research questions as formulated in section 1.4 of Chapter 1. The collection of primary data for each research question involved a different methodology.

3.3.1 Do Mathematics educators have problems of explaining concepts in

class where students have different level of knowledge regarding the

pre-requisite of the subject matter?

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In relation to how mathematics educators view ICT and the teaching

process, a questionnaire was designed. The information gathered was to

be used to answer this research question on how ICT can enhance the

teaching of mathematical studies.

3.3.2 Do Mathematics educators have the necessary resources to reach

weak students?

This research question was investigated through the use of the same

questionnaire as mentioned in the section above. The emphasis here is on

the constraints and challenges faced by the mathematics educators.

3.3.3 Why students have low interest and low willingness to invest in their

mathematical studies?

This research question too was attempted through the use of questionnaires

made available to students to know their appreciation of the mathematics

subject and their views about the use of ICT in their mathematical studies

and about their opinion on information technology.

Survey Structure

Questionnaire structure

Data collection was carried out using survey questionnaire, which has become a common research tool as it provides cost-effective and reliable means for gathering feedback. The reason for choosing this methodology is that it is a non-intrusive means of gathering information. It is relatively simple and straightforward to complete questionnaires and does not require an excessive amount of time. The objective of the questionnaires were meant for mathematics educators to investigate the use of ICT and the barriers of integrating ICT into the teaching of mathematics.and the opinions of students on learning the said subject through the use of ICT.

The questionnaire delivered to mathematics educators was divided into three main sections.

The first section, Section A, focuses on the demographic information about educators including gender, age, and length of teaching experience.

Section B collects data on the pedagogical beliefs associated with the use of in ICT in the mathematics education through teaching and learning process and attempts at recording the teaching and learning strategy they adopt in class.

Section C records information about the constraints the encounter while dealing with ICT in their teaching profession.

The survey questionnaire for students dealt with their appreciation of the mathematics subject and their views about the use of ICT in their mathematical studies and about their opinion about information technology.

Interview Structure

In addition to information collected through questionnaires a list of questions provided an insight on use of ICT that can be beneficial in teaching and learning and constraints they encountered. Emerging themes during interview were further developed. The interview focused on whether ICT tools are expected to be useful in their teaching of mathematics.

A copy of the survey questionnaires and list of questions used in the interview is annexed in Appendix A. The transcript of the survey questionnaire and interview is shown in tally form in Appendix C.

Administration of Questionnaire and Interview

The target group for the questionnaire and interview was mathematics educator population of Secondary School across Mauritius. Questionnaires were personally administered so as to mitigate any drawbacks. Interviews were also personally conducted so as to be able to assess the reaction of the interviewees. There is also the possibility of probing further issues while simultaneously minimising non-response rate as well as clarification of misunderstanding, which might prove advantageous.

Analysis Techniques

The findings of the survey were compiled and analysed using Microsoft Office Excel 2007. The information obtained was depicted into graphical representation, which is much easier to grasp.

CASE STUDY AS A RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The case study is a way of organising social data for the purpose of viewing social reality. A case study enables researches to generalise to other cases that represent similar theoretical conditions.

Yin (1994) lists six types of data with which case study is dealt:

Documents for e.g. school records, teacher's notes.

Archival records for e.g. quantitative data including survey questionnaire or result from prior studies like official statistics for e.g. MES.

Direct observation.

Participant observation.

Interviews.

Physical artefacts.

ETHICAL ISSUES

There is increasing awareness that the people on whom research is conducted have rights, and that researchers have responsibilities and obligations to these research subjects (Mc Neill and Chapman, 2005). The main ethical issues that have been given due consideration during this research are given below.

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Informed consent: inform all participants that they are subject to the research project and that they are free to refuse to participate.

Deception: true information given to all participants about the purpose of the research.

Confidentiality: identifying information about the subjects will not be made available to anyone.

Anonymity: the identity of each participant will remain unknown.

Risks: no subject will be harmed physically or emotionally.

Legality: parents are to be informed of their children's participation in the research.

For this current research, emphasis is laid on three of the above, namely informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity. Anonymity was preserved for the students since some questions relate to their likes of mathematics and the reasons behind, certain students may feel unsecured to answer truthfully for fear that they can be identified as some reasons included concerned their respective teachers whom might be known by the researcher. Finally all those participating in the research will not be named anywhere in the report.

Laying emphasis on the above ethical problems is of paramount importance because if the respondents do not trust the researcher, then the validity of the data collected will not reflect the reality.

Justification of Methodologies Used

The study uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data. . In this study the following tools were applied:

Unstructured and structured Interview

Questionnaire

In this study the case study approach was applied. This is because it allows a multi-perspectival analysis of the situation, that is, data can be assessed in different ways. It also allows the study of a define sample group.

Qualitative research is mainly concerned with small samples of subjects. Interviews are conducted by the researcher to obtain more details about the popular factors identified in the questionnaire. Qualitative approach is used as its nature matches the common qualitative research's purposes. The sampling process was purposive rather than random since building up of categories is predefined and consequently a random sample of the population will lead to bias of the results as the trends may also exist in a particular type of occurrence.

The inclusion of quantitative data (Questionnaire) in this dissertation enhances reliability and validity of the study. The quantitative dimension brings about balance, intellectual breadth and rigour to the research. The questionnaire also attempted to measure the attitude or belief of respondents thus these opinions desired are included in an Opinionnaire or also known as attitude scale. Both the Opinionnaire and Questionnaire is combined in one form that is usually referred to as a questionnaire.

To have an eye bird view of the performance of students, data from the internal sources was collected at Keats College and MES. This allows us to explore the true nature of the problem and also gives us an idea of what is going on in mathematical studies.

The methodology was devised to some extent based upon those data collected during secondary data collection. In the next chapter, the researcher's strategy for the collection and analysis of this data will be outlined.