Educational Technology in Mathematics Education in Two Countries: Comparison
Please note this is a comparison between Version 1 by Marien Alet Graham and Version 2 by Camila Xu.

The use of technology rapidly increased in society over the past decade or so. Consequently, many educational systems incorporated the use of educational technology in their curricula. Elementary and secondary education teachers were urged to integrate technology into education.

  • educational technology
  • HLM
  • interview
  • mathematics education
  • mixed-method

1. Introduction

Nearly all of the 57 countries that participated in the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2019 highlighted the importance of using educational technology to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning [1]. In fact, several countries, including South Africa and Germany, made substantial investments in rolling out educational technology in schools. For instance, the South African government allocated approximately 15.3 billion rands towards instructional equipment that included educational technology [2]. In a similar vein, the German government allocated about 2.4 billion euros for the proposed Digital Pact program, aiming to equip schools in Germany with digital infrastructure [3]. Sadly, these investments do not automatically result in improved learner performance. Instead, educational technology only provides teachers with new teaching strategies, which might positively influence learner performances if integrated correctly [4]. Several studies documented the advantages of using educational technology in mathematics education. For instance, the British Educational Communication and Technology Agency (BECTA) stated that educational technology could develop learners’ visual imagery and assist them in observing patterns and exploring data that can be beneficial for learning mathematics [5]. Nevertheless, regardless of the ways in which educational technology can benefit teaching and learning, many mathematics teachers still do not recognise its advantages [6]. The distribution of educational technology to schools does not automatically translate into a situation where teachers actually use it for instruction purposes or to improve the quality of education [7]. To this point, very few studies are interested in the use of educational technology in South African and German schools. Consequently, this study investigated the use of educational technology in two schools per country. These schools were purposefully sampled as they had educational technology available for mathematics education. This mixed-method study explored the different ways in which mathematics teachers use educational technology in German and South African primary school classrooms. Educational technology is not restricted to technology but is anything that enhances classroom learning in the utilisation of blended, face-to-face, or online learning.

2. Different Ways in Which Teachers Use Educational Technology

The adoption of educational technology by mathematics teachers largely depends on whether or not they use it voluntarily [8][11]. Many mathematics teachers are, however, pressured by curriculum requirements to integrate technology into their classroom instruction. Others are willing to change their teaching approach due to the known benefits of using educational technology in mathematics education. One of the most basic conditions is that the devices must be readily available in the classroom for teachers to use computers in mathematics lessons. In Turkey, Birgin et al. [9][12] used a descriptive survey to investigate mathematics teachers’ perceptions while using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). Their study included 242 mathematics teachers from Grade 5 to Grade 12. They found that almost all teachers owned a computer and smartphone and had access to the internet. Almost 70% (69.8%) of these teachers received training on Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), and therefore, one would assume that most would use computers in their instruction. However, Birgin et al. [9][12] found that only 14.0% of these teachers used computers very often, while 28.9% used computers often, 19.4% barely used them, and 7.4% never used computers in mathematics instruction. Their findings also showed that just over one-quarter (25.6%) of these teachers frequently used the smartboard, while 7.0% rarely used it during mathematics lessons. An interesting finding is that these teachers had ICT available and had some knowledge about which software was available (for example, Mathematica, Cabri II, Cabri 3D, Maple, and Geometer’s Sketchpad), which means the training they received on CAI did not necessarily result in their use of educational technology in mathematics. Another interesting finding was that teachers mostly used ICT as a communication tool rather than an instructional tool [9][12]. In South Africa, Umugiraneza et al. [10][13] investigated the extent to which mathematics teachers from schools in the KwaZulu-Natal province used technology in the classroom. These authors distributed a questionnaire to a sample of 75 mathematics teachers. Only 44.0% of these teachers indicated that their schools have computer facilities, and 28.0% explained that some computers could be used for mathematics instruction. Their findings also suggest that these teachers are more comfortable using calculators than computers. An area of concern is that computers are not used for instructional purposes, but more for administration in schools with computer facilities [10][13]. Xiang [6] used a mixed-method approach to compare how mathematics teachers from England and China integrate technology into mathematics. In total, 348 mathematics teachers completed a questionnaire (229 from China and 119 from England). Additionally, 11 teachers were interviewed and observed (six from China and five from England). Findings showed that mathematics teachers from China mostly used computers, data projectors, Microsoft Office programmes (such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), followed by calculators, interactive whiteboards, and Geometer’s Sketchpad, and most reported that they barely use mobile phones in mathematics teaching. On the other hand, teachers from England reported mostly using calculators, computers, interactive whiteboards, GeoGebra, and Autograph, while they barely use smartphones and projectors in mathematics education. Chinese teachers mainly used Baidu (search engine) to browse websites focusing on specific subjects, download pictures and videos, and look for interactive programs focusing on specific content, while teachers from England mostly used Google for these purposes. Interestingly, Chinese teachers mostly used local communication platforms like WeChat to exchange teaching material. Findings from Xiang [6] also showed that Chinese teachers mostly use the technology mentioned above to explain mathematical knowledge, while the teachers from England use technology to demonstrate exercises and problem-solving steps. Teachers from both countries mostly used computers as presentation tools, particularly for explaining and justifying concepts (Chinese teachers) as well as for calculations and checking purposes (teachers from England).

3. Teacher Perceptions about the Integration of Educational Technology

Pajares [11][14] describes beliefs as personal guides that aid individuals in defining and understanding the world and themselves. Tezci [12][15] explains that teachers’ perceptions of Computer-assisted Learning (CAL) can be cognitive, affective, and behavioural. For instance, a teacher’s perception of educational technology as useful is referred to as a cognitive perception. Secondly, an example of an affective perception is when teachers like or dislike educational technology. Thirdly, teachers who had a positive experience with educational technology and recommended other teachers to integrate it into teaching are using a behavioural perception. However, educational technology researchers group beliefs mostly as teacher- and learner-centred [13][16]. The literature revealed that teacher perceptions and attitudes are important elements in determining whether teachers will use educational technology in their classroom and how they plan to implement it [13][16]. Various studies have been conducted to determine teachers’ perceptions based on integrating educational technology [14][15][16][17,18,19]. Research has shown that it is mostly teachers with learner-centred (constructivist teaching styles) who are most likely to use educational technology in their teaching practices [17][18][19][20,21,22]. Farjon et al. [20][23] found that the attitudes and beliefs of pre-service teachers had the strongest influence on their actual use of educational technology, while access to educational technology was the weakest predictor. In fact, an earlier study by Moila [21][24] found that mathematics teachers from a rural school in South Africa believed that the use of ICTs improves learner performances, motivates and encourages learners, and provides different teaching approaches which ensure that learners enjoy mathematics. Most recently, Bardakcı and Alkan [22][25] found that performance expectancy positively and significantly influenced Turkish pre-service teachers’ behavioural intention to use the interactive whiteboard for teaching purposes. This finding is supported by Stols et al. [23][26], who found similar results using South African data. Researchers who used the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) also found that “perceive usefulness” influences teachers’ attitudes towards using educational technology, which in turn influences their intention to use it in teaching and learning [24][25][27,28].
Video Production Service