International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 191–215

Designing Spreadsheet-Based Tasks for Purposeful Algebra


DOI: 10.1007/s10758-005-8420-9

Cite this article as:
Ainley, J., Bills, L. & Wilson, K. Int J Comput Math Learning (2005) 10: 191. doi:10.1007/s10758-005-8420-9


We describe the design of a sequence of spreadsheet-based pedagogic tasks for the introduction of algebra in the early years of secondary schooling within the Purposeful Algebraic Activity project. This design combines two relatively novel features to bring a different perspective to research in the use of spreadsheets for the learning and teaching of algebra: the tasks which are purposeful for pupils and contain opportunities to appreciate the utility of algebraic ideas, and careful matching of the affordances of the spreadsheet to the algebraic ideas which are being introduced. Examples from two tasks are used to illustrate the design process. We then present data from a teaching programme using these tasks to highlight connections between aspects of the task design and the construction of meanings for variable.


algebraspreadsheetstask designvariable

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.School of Education and Lifelong LearningUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK