Profiles of software utilization by university mathematics faculty
Tools and methods used to maximize mathematics learning are a primary concern
for mathematics education. According to the literature, software applications are
becoming increasing more prevalent in mathematics. While there exists a consensus
establishing technology as a valuable tool in mathematics, and consequently ample
recognition that it is important to mathematics education, arbitrary application of
technology is both inefficient and ineffective. The purpose of this study is to describe
software utilization by academic mathematicians.
Survey research was conducted using an electronic questionnaire distributed to
members of 47 AMS Group I university mathematics departments (n=2857). Data
were used to describe, differentiate, and explain practices regarding the nature and
extent of utilizing mathematical software to facilitate mathematics. Further, beliefs
about mathematics education were explored. In addition to increasing awareness in
the education community, profiles based on participants’ responses (n=422) were created
to aid in identifying core practices of mathematicians with respect to technology.
The results indicate that software is increasingly important to mathematics, especially
to communicating mathematics. However, participants expressed less favorable
views when relating these technologies to learning and understanding mathematics.
MATLAB, Mathematica, and Maple were the three primary software applications
utilized. Selection of these software depended on the branch of mathematics but
not necessarily on mathematical activities. In addition, results show that computer
programming is considered an important aspect of mathematizing.
In conclusion, there are appropriate choices and uses of mathematical software
for mathematics and thus for mathematics education. LaTeX should be used for
communication, C++ or Fortran for programming, and MATLAB for applied mathematics.
Mathematics education researchers should play an important role by monitoring
mathematical activities and software use in order to develop new strategies for
teaching and learning.
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School:The Ohio State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:mathematics education higher educational technology
Date of Publication: