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The Role of Technology in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics

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A Position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Question: What is the role of technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics?

NCTM Position

Technology is an essential tool for learning mathematics in the 21st century, and all schools must ensure that all their students have access to technology. Effective teachers maximize the potential of technology to develop students’ understanding, stimulate their interest, and increase their proficiency in mathematics. When technology is used strategically, it can provide access to mathematics for all students.

Calculators and other technological tools, such as computer algebra systems, interactive geometry software, applets, spreadsheets, and interactive presentation devices, are vital components of a high-quality mathematics education. With guidance from effective mathematics teachers, students at different levels can use these tools to support and extend mathematical reasoning and sense making, gain access to mathematical content and problem-solving contexts, and enhance computational fluency. In a well-articulated mathematics program, students can use these tools for computation, construction, and representation as they explore problems. The use of technology also contributes to mathematical reflection, problem identification, and decision making.

The use of technology cannot replace conceptual understanding, computational fluency, or problem-solving skills. In a balanced mathematics program, the strategic use of technology enhances mathematics teaching and learning. Teachers must be knowledgeable decision makers in determining when and how their students can use technology most effectively. All schools and mathematics programs should provide students and teachers with access to instructional technology, including appropriate calculators, computers with mathematical software, Internet connectivity, handheld data-collection devices, and sensing probes. Curricula and courses of study should incorporate instructional technology in learning outcomes, lesson plans, and assessments of students’ progress.

Programs in teacher education and professional development must continually update practitioners’ knowledge of technology and its classroom applications. Such programs should include the development of mathematics lessons that take advantage of technology-rich environments and the integration of technology in day-to-day instruction, instilling an appreciation for the power of technological tools and their potential impact on students’ learning and use of mathematics. All teachers must remain open to learning new technologies, implementing them effectively in a coherent and balanced instructional program. These tools, including those used specifically for teaching and learning mathematics, not only complement mathematics teaching and learning but also prepare all students for their future lives, which technology will influence every day.

(March 2008)


NCTM position statements define a particular problem, issue, or need and describe its relevance to mathematics education. Each statement defines the Council's position or answers a question central to the issue. The NCTM Board of Directors approves position statements.


 

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