Examining the didactic contract when handheld technology is permitted in the mathematics classroom
The use of mathematics analysis software (MAS) including handheld scientific and graphics calculators offers a range of pedagogical opportunities. Its use can support change in the didactic contract. MAS may become an alternative source of authority in the classroom empowering students to explore variation and regularity, manipulate simulations and link representations. Strategic use may support students to direct their own learning and explore mathematics, equipping them to share their findings with the teacher and the class with more confidence. This paper offers a framework for examining the impact of the use of MAS on the didactic contract. Lessons were observed in 12 grade 10 classes, with 12 different teachers new to MAS. MAS technology was used with a variety of didactic contracts, mostly traditional. The framework drew attention to many ways in which the teaching differed. Analysis of the didactic contract must consider both the teaching of mathematics and of technology skills, because these have different characteristics. In all classes, both teachers and students saw the teacher as having a responsibility to teach technology skills. Students saw technology skills as the main point of the lesson, but the teachers saw the lesson as primarily teaching mathematics—one of the mismatches which may need negotiation to adapt didactic contracts to teaching with MAS.
KeywordsMathematics education Technology Didactic contract Computer algebra system Dynamic geometry
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