Mathematics Literacy: Using Technology to Improve Student's Conceptual Understanding of Mathematics

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes, Hope College
Dr. Kimberly Kotkowicz, Hope College

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The purpose of this year long qualitative case study was to determine the effect of technology on the metacognitive processes of elementary mathematics students on mathematics content knowledge. Specifically, we were searching for a method for turning rote procedural or algorithmic activities (ranging from multiplying two digit numbers to two binomials) into conceptual ones by developing students’ mathematical reasoning skills through metacognition. Two Hope College intern teachers’ were selected to weekly incorporate Livescribe an interactive digital pen that records and allows the sharing of audio visual files, with the pedagogy of “think alouds” where students orally talk through the “how to” and “why” of each activity in their mathematics classrooms. Other students were given the opportunity of analyze their peers oral recordings. Teachers also kept a journal chronicling the critical reflection of the metacognitive process that was occurring in the classroom. While this project is ongoing, preliminary results after one semester indicated students’ engagement levels increased. Students responses became more critical, going from explanation of “what” to “why.” Additionally, the teachers’ mathematics pedagogy improved as they became more adept at using errors as opportunities to provide scaffolding for further conceptual understanding. It is clear that metacognition helps provide a deeper conceptual understanding of procedural activities for these elementary mathematics students.

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