When a University Mathematics Department Adopted Core Mathematics Courses of an Unintentionally Constructionist Nature: Really?

Chantal Buteau, Eric Muller, Neil Marshall
2015 Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education  
In a sequence of core mathematics courses instituted in 2001 at Brock University, students learn to design, program and use interactive computer environments, in order to investigate a self-stated mathematical conjecture, a concept, a theorem or a real-world situation. In this article, we provide documentation for the complete implementation process (design and adoption, actual implementation and student outcomes) of these technology-rich courses, underlining that their development occurred
more » ... pendent of ideas from the constructionism and microworld literature. However, we argue for their implicitly constructionist nature and explore the issue of a form of constructionist implementation acceptable to stakeholders in university mathematics education. Results of this exploratory case study propose three dominant elements for an adoptable description: i) students learning (to do) mathematics by programming and conducting their own mathematical explorations; ii) an explicit aim of empowering students articulated in pragmatic ways; iii) an implicit acknowledgement of constructionist student learning (e.g., through the explicit role of the instructor in fostering and valuing student creativity in mathematical work). Very early on in the discussions of the use of digital technology in mathematics education, Papert (1980a) envisioned a reform of mathematics education where students would engage in mathematics learning in a very personal way. Papert (1991) later termed his approach Constructionism, a paradigm Bunique in its attention to the ways in which meanings are generated during individual and collective bricolage with digital
doi:10.1007/s40751-015-0009-x fatcat:wrj5zdowirfzpbhl6ppki752xm