Mathematics Education (Signadou)


Welcome to the Wireless Networked Classroom

Good Teaching and Learning: Without Wires!


Prior to the release of the TI-Navigator system, most applications of classroom communication systems were limited to teaching of content-intensive courses, often within large lecture situations in domains as varied as physics, economics, even preclinical medicine (Draper, Cargill, & Cutts, 2002; Elliott, 2002; Ganger & Jackson, 2003; Poulis, Massen, Robens, & Gilbert, 1998). A review of this literature identified 26 studies, which reported benefits most commonly related to "greater student engagement, increased understanding of complex subject matter, increased interest and enjoyment of class, and promoting discussion/interactivity" (Texas Instruments, 2003), among others.

Freed from the limitations of multiple-choice questions, and faced with the challenge of building student understanding of "big ideas", my own use of the technology was intended to occur in relation to two main modes of operation:

  1. As a means of rapidly and efficiently collecting student responses to questions posed within both lecture and tutorial situations (data collection mode);

  2. As a means to display student responses for the purpose of modelling answers and drawing attention to different qualities in these student responses, thus providing specific strategies by which students may be explicitly scaffolded in their development of skills of critical thinking and high-order responses (critical thinking mode).

While the convenience of this system for immediate collection and collation of student responses proved quite significant in relation to administrative demands of teaching, the particular focus for this small introductory study was on building skills of critical thinking and reflection. Students were required to reflect critically upon the topic of study for each week of lectures (the "big ideas", which included theories of learning and what I termed "principles of pedagogy" which were modelled throughout lectures and tutorials). Students engaged in problems and activities specifically chosen to illustrate and exemplify the "big ideas" under consideration. Their reflective task was to explain the ways in which significant principles of pedagogy had been illustrated and support this through reference to literature and other relevant experiences.

Several tutorials involved students writing their critical reflections using the calculator and keyboard, having these responses "harvested" and then displayed for discussion, modelling, comparison and contrasting. Student responses were presented anonymously, and opportunities provided for consideration of what constituted a "quality" response. The SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1982, 1991; Collis & Biggs, 1991) was utilised as part of the explicit criteria by which responses would be graded, and students used the Navigator system to grade the responses of their peers, then discuss and compare the uniformity of their allocation of grades. This proved highly effective in building both understanding of the SOLO Taxonomy and of the expectations of the course for assessment.

Towards excellence in mathematics teaching

Stephen Mark ARNOLD

Room 206 Phone 02 62091142