Teachers and computer use for secondary mathematics teaching: Encouraging and inhibiting factors

Year: 2004

Author: Forgasz, Helen

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Included in contemporary mathematics curricula is the expectation that mathematics teachers will use technology - computers and calculators - in their classrooms. It is widely believed in educational circles and in society at large that students' learning will be enhanced by engaging with these technologies. For children to use computers for mathematics learning, their teachers must want and be enabled to do so. In this paper, the factors identified as encouraging or inhibiting computer use in secondary mathematics classrooms are reported. Data were gathered from a large sample of Victorian teachers, surveyed twice over a three-year period. The sets of encouraging and discouraging factors were similar - that is, the presence or absence of particular factors appears to make a difference. It was disturbing to note that the identified factors differed little from those reported over a decade ago. They were also consistent with those identified by teachers elsewhere in the world and across various discipline areas. The findings send strong messages to those empowered to make a difference. Whether overcoming the inhibitors will result in greater use of computers for mathematics learning and whether computer use will make a difference to students' learning are issues still requiring evidential support.