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Work in progress

Alison Parish

‘How and when is ICT incorporated into mathematics lessons and what are the factors that affect its use?

Initial Research Question:

How, and when, is ICT incorporated into mathematics lessons, and what are the factors that affect its use?

Following an initial probe into when, what and how ICT is used in mathematics classrooms, it is proposed to focus on one of the possible constraints that has been identified by other researchers including Williams et al. (2000). They identified the constraints of lack of ICT resources as overriding factor, but also found that an unfamiliarity with different software packages, lack of skills, lack of time and that some packages were not seen as appropriate to their subject and/or teaching. The study will include schools in different phases and year groups within them, as well as pupil ability. The influence on the inclusion (or exclusion) of the use of ICT will be considered in the context of the school’s attitude to the use of ICT itself, (including the extent to which ICT is included within schemes of work), the department, teachers and students. Initially this will take place through a literature review then looking at a sample of schools in Suffolk covering the upper primary and lower secondary year groups.

Teachers’ personal attitude to ICT may reflect on their ICT usage in the classroom (Williams, et al. 2000); those with a more negative attitude using ICT less than those with a positive attitude. Williams also found that those who use computers at home are more likely to use them in the classroom. Williams found that teachers cited a lack of skills and unfamiliarity with ICT as inhibitors to its greater use in the classroom in addition to limited availability of hardware. Without knowledge of the software it is difficult for teachers to arrive at informed opinions on the suitability of ICT resources and how they might be used in the classroom.

I have, personally, experienced different types of presentation and, whilst regarding myself as being quite computer literate (mostly self-taught), I have found there are various levels of effectiveness of presentation, including some that were hard to follow and difficult to learn from, therefore I have often needed to teach myself after the training. Another problem in education is that, having attended a course, it might be some time before the new skills can be put into practice. This is particularly an issue where teachers do not have access to the software out of school. Many teachers, who trained before ICT became readily accessible as part of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in late 1990s, will have had to learn ICT skills from professional development instigated by schools. This raises the question as to whether there is a difference between this group of teachers and those trained more recently. (Hammond et al. 2008) OfSTED (2004) reported that there had been some progress on the inclusion of ICT in Secondary Mathematics but there was an unacceptable variation between schools. This was still evident in the later OfSTED (2005) report, which also included primary and special schools. If this difference between schools is found to be a constraint, questions will be developed as to whether the method of ICT training presented to teachers is appropriate, and this research will also consider if approaches can be adapted to give teachers a greater awareness and confidence to increase their use of ICT in the classroom, and thereby enhancing students’ learning.

Crisan, (2004) carried out a critical literature review and case study looking at secondary teachers’ use of ICT. She concluded that there are two broad categories affecting the use of ICT in lessons: the contextual factors and the personal factors. One of her main findings was that teachers’ own learning experience affected their implementation of ICT in the classroom. Monaghan’s (2004) study involved teachers who were not technology enthusiasts and considered their response to including more ICT in their lessons. His study showed that there were not significant changes to social behaviour within the classroom or to teaching methodologies from introducing computer lessons. He concluded that, for teachers, the time factor of experience is important in developing confidence to integrate ICT into lessons, not only in how to use the tools but also as to how lessons will run. This is possibly an inhibitor to the inclusion of more ICT.

One aspect of this research will look at use of the interactive board, who uses it and how. Miller et al., (2003) grouped teachers into three categories,

“ ‘missioners’ those who have become aware of the potential for more effective teaching and learning ..... and an enthusiasm to interest other teachers in the potential of interactive approaches. .....‘luddites’ unwilling to embrace new approaches, and ‘ tentatives’ who are not averse to the technology and its use but fear for too rapid an introduction”.

It is the last group who, with adequate support and training, could make a difference to the amount of ICT used in the classroom.

In addition to looking at interactive whiteboard use, the research will explore whether programs with a mathematical content are used and at what stages (and how the teachers have been taught to use them) as opposed to using more generic software, i.e. those developed with mathematics classrooms in mind. OfSTED (2004) remarked that although the availability of software had improved since 2002, use of dynamic geometry and algebra software remained limited. They also reported that teachers were often unaware of how the software might be used to its best advantage and that they needed help with this. Dale et al., (2004) discuss the problems of introducing ICT into the school and the professional development of teachers. They found that “little confidence was expressed in most training programmes” and that many teachers had to rely on peer support. Peer support will necessarily be time consuming and be reliant on the skills and a willingness to provide not only the support, but also the time to do it. Hennessy et al. (2005) looked at teachers’ involvement with ICT and suggested that ‘working contexts in which they find themselves’ influence and affect the amount of integration, noting that it is costly in terms of time to change practices. This suggests that integration of ICT is dependent on teachers’ attitude and confidence, availability of software, access to hardware, training, and support from colleagues.

In their report, ACME (2002) considered how much CPD mathematics teachers should receive, and suggested that it should be available to all teachers whatever their current situation. In practice, many teachers are receiving only a limited amount (cost and cover of classes being a constraint) and the focus has been on changes to the curriculum and strategies rather than ICT. There are issues concerning the quality of training, with some training methods being regarded as less than useful. (Williams et al. 2000); these include sessions where the pace has been too fast or contained too much jargon or information. Many teachers are reliant on colleagues, as there is little opportunity for many teachers to have time out from school for training. This has a time implication and is an extra burden on both the trainers and the trainees. Williams also found that the school’s attitude to the use of ICT within lessons does influence the inclusion of ICT, and thus integration by an individual teacher might be because of a school or departmental policy as well as a personal interest.

The incentive for schools and teachers to develop the integration of ICT might come though a response to the student’s perspective and how they, the students, feel that using ICT contributes to the learning of mathematics. Where students are interested and showing a positive response in attitude and learning, a doubting teacher will feel encouraged. However, some teachers are unwilling to take the risk and try out new approaches. The National Curriculum (2007) does include suggestions of where the use of ICT can enhance learning with the intentions that, by highlighting these approaches, more teachers might be encouraged to include more ICT in lessons.

As mathematics is an international language, there is the opportunity to look at how ICT is used in classrooms in other countries through international conferences such as CADGEME and the GeoGebra (due to be held in Austria in July 2009).


In investigating ‘How and when is ICT incorporated into mathematics lessons and which factors influence this?’ , a literature review will be undertaken to establish what had already been found and whether the current situation in English schools has changed in recent years as more teachers would have had training in their ITT course. This will be followed by initial questionnaires and interviews with teachers and advisors to see if the picture is commensurate with the research findings. If it is found that one of the constraints to integration of ICT is CPD then further research would be undertaken using further questionnaires and interviews to be given to teacher trainers, CPD providers, advisors, teachers, and ITT students as to the training methods used and how effective they are. Within this there would be a discussion with teachers regarding what they expect from training and how it might be more effective, focusing on the different categories (‘missioner’, ‘ luddite’ and tentative’) as suggested by Miller et al., (2003). Following an analysis of the responses some delivery approaches to introducing a piece of software could be trialled. These approaches might include delivery in the form of a Powerpoint presentation, a written format ( paper or on-screen instructions), an animation of procedures that allow the participant to mimic moves and an activity in which the participants are encouraged to discover techniques for themselves,

Using generic software such as Dynamic Geometry (which is under-used in schools) would be a good subject to trial some different approaches with teachers using free or purchased software or handheld (such as TI-nspire). The Association of Teachers of Mathematics software, Grid Algebra, is a piece of software written for mathematics classrooms. Although there are activities students can do its strength comes from its use with the interactive whiteboard. These two pieces of software serve different purposes in the classroom and it might be that different approaches to training are shown to be more powerful. Another issue is how well teacher’s feel the different formats equip them for their own personal knowledge of the software and for using it in the classroom. Feedback from this could inform CPD providers.


The results of the research might benefit LEA and National agencies delivering ICT training and enable them to tailor delivery for different audiences. This might include a formal presentation, working notes, interactive activities, video demonstrations or a mixture in order to satisfy teachers’ personal learning styles. Using dynamic geometry will fit into other work I am (or have been) engaged in with GeoGebra, Cabri 3D, and the TI-nspire. Grid Algebra has a different purpose within the classroom and deals with an area of mathematics that many students have, historically, had difficulty with. And it will be interesting to see whether this changes where teachers have used it to support their teaching. This research will also help me develop skills in being a more effective trainer so that my trainees will feel able to use the software in their own classrooms.


ACME, A.C.o.M.E. (2002) Continuing Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics (London)

Crisan, C. (2004). Mathematics teacher’s Learning About and Incorporation of ICT into Classroom Practices. Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. 24(2), 15-50.

Dale, R. Robertson, S. & Shortis, T. (2004). ‘You can’t go with the technological flow can you?’ Constructing ‘ICT’ and ‘teaching and learning’. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 456-470

Hammond, M. et al. (2008). ‘Why do some student teachers make very good use of ICT? An exploratory case study’ University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

Hennessy, S., Ruthven K. & Brindley S. (2005). Teacher Perspectives on Integrating ICT into Subject Teaching: commitment, constraints, caution and change. Journal Curriculum Studies, 37(2), 155-192

Miller, D.J, Glover, D & Averis, D. (2003) Exposure - the introduction of interactive whiteboard technology to secondary school mathematics teachers in training, CERME 3: Third Conference of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education, Bellaria, Italy (refereed paper) retrieved 31st August 2008 from

Monaghan, J. (2004). "Teachers’ Activities in Technology-based Mathematics Lessons". International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 9(3),327-357.

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2004) report: ICT in schools – the impact of Government Initiatives Secondary Mathematics: A Report from the Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools retrieved 31st August 2008 from

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2005). 2005 report: Embedding ICT in schools, a dual evaluation exercise: A Report from the Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools retrieved August 31st 2008 from

Williams, D. et al. (2000). Teachers and ICT: current use and future needs, British Journal of Educational Technology, 4, 307-320