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Linking Geometry and Algebra:

A multiple-case study of Upper-Secondary


mathematics teachers conceptions and practices of
GeoGebra in England and Taiwan

Yu-Wen Allison Lu

Thesis submitted for the degree of


Master of Philosophy in Educational Research
Faculty of Education
University of Cambridge

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Andrews

July 2008

Abstract
The idea of the integration of dynamic geometry and computer algebra and the
implementation of open-source software in mathematics teaching underpins new
approaches to studying teachers conceptions and technological artefacts in use. This
study opens by reviewing the evolving design of dynamic geometry and computer
algebra, teachers conceptions and pioneering uses of GeoGebra, and early sketches
of GeoGebra mainstream use in teaching practices.
This study has investigated English and Taiwanese upper-secondary teachers
conceptions and practices regarding GeoGebra. It has more specifically sought to gain
an understanding of the teachers conceptions of technology and their pedagogies
incorporating dynamic manipulation with GeoGebra into mathematical discourse.
Moreover, the impact of teachers conceptions of GeoGebra with respect to their
practices has been explored. In order to answer the research questions, a multiple-case
study has been followed, involving two English and two Taiwanese teachers. For data
triangulation purposes, various methods have been employed, such as documentation,
expert interviews with observation of the teachers using the software, and informative
interviews with the GeoGebra creator and an advanced user.

According to the results of this study, some teachers tended to perceive GeoGebra as
not merely a tool but rather an environment for teaching and learning mathematics.
They viewed GeoGebra as serving the purpose of supporting pupils learning, and
performing the functions of visualising and conceptualising their mathematical
understandings. The study also found that the teachers employed a wide variety of
strategies to integrate GeoGebra into their teaching practices, such as preparation for
teaching materials, presentation of mathematical content and concepts, classroom
activities for interaction with pupils and investigation of mathematics. Their practices
regarding GeoGebra integration have many weaknesses, but there has been evidence
of some good examples of GeoGebra teaching being applied. The findings also
suggest that teachers teaching practices are considerably influenced by their
conceptions of GeoGebra in relation to mathematical knowledge and their cultural
traditions.

Acknowledgements
First and foremost, I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. Paul Andrews. He has
been a truly inspiring mentor and has offered the most invaluable support over this
past year.

I extend my appreciation to all those individuals whom I interviewed for this project,
and to those who offered suggestions at all stages of this thesis. I am particularly
grateful to Dr. Markus Hohenwarter, the designer of GeoGebra, for his invaluable
information in the interview and help during the data collection.
My sincere gratitude is also given to Cambridge Overseas Trust and St Edmunds
College who supported my study.

Many thanks to my greatest friend Rebecca Day who helped me enormously through
difficulties I encountered.

Last, but not least, my fondest regards are given to my beloved family; especially my
parents and brother who have always given me the greatest love, care and support.

CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE Introduction ........... 1
1.1 Research Context .. 1
1.2 Rationale and Significance of the Study ....... 3
1.3 Outline4
CHAPTER TWO: Literature Review.. 6
2.1 Introduction... 6
2.2 The Role of ICT in Mathematics Education . 6
2.2.1 Technology Integration in Education... 6
2.2.2 An Overview of Technology Use in Mathematics Teaching .. 8
2.2.3 Cross-Cultural Studies on Technology and Mathematics Teaching . 9
2.2.4 England and Taiwan: Two Opposite Systems? .. 11
2.2.5 Teachers Beliefs, Conceptions and Practices .... 12
2.3 Teaching algebra and geometry with Technology13
2.3.1 Geometry +Algebra=GeoGebra? ................................. 16
2.4 Statement of Research Questions18
CHAPTER THREE: Research Methodology.... 19
3.1 Introduction.. 19
3.2 Theoretical Framework. 19
3.3 Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective.... 20
3.4 Methodology... 22
3.4.1 Selection of Appropriate Research Approach.. 22
3.4.2 Case Study Research Approach.. 23
3.5 Methods..... 25
3.5.1 Data Collection... 25
3.5.2 Interviews.... 26
3.5.3 Research Settings and Participants.... 28
3.5.4 Data Analysis.... 29
3.5.5 Research Considerations........31

CHAPTER FOUR: Data Analysis... 33


4.1 Introduction. 33
4.2 The Cases... 33
4.2.1 Jay... 34
4.2.2 Li...38
4.2.3 Richard.. 43
4.2.4 Tyler.. 47
4.3 Informative Interviews..51
4.3.1 Interview with GeoGebra creator.. 51
4.3.1 Interview with an advanced user.. 52
4.4 Cross-Case Analysis 53
4.4.1 Emerging Categories. 53
4.4.2 Educational Tool.. 54
4.4.3 Teacher Transition... 56
4.4.4 Mathematical Scope 58
4.4.5 Infrastructural Change. 59
4.5 Cross-Cultural Exploration 61
4.6 Summary 62
CHAPTER FIVE: Discussion and Concluding Remarks.... 63
5.1 Introduction.. 63
5.2 Findings.... 63
5.3 Discussion.......................... 65
5.4 Reflections and Limitations..................... 67
5.5 Implications and Recommendations for Further Research..................... 68
5.6 Concluding Thoughts..................... 71
REFERENCES.. 72
APPENDICES ... 83
APPENDIX I: Interview Transcripts. 83
Appendix II: A Matrix for Generating Theme-Based Assertions ...111
Appendix III: Research Timeline 112

Appendix IV: Informed Consent- England .113


Appendix V: Informed Consent- Taiwan .114
Appendix VI: Sample Interview Protocol 115
Appendix VII: Jays Example of Geometrical Constructions 116
Appendix VIII: Lis Examples of Proofs of Theorems and Problem-solving 118
Appendix IX: Lis Revision Worksheet .. 119
Appendix X: Tylers Example of Geometrical Constructions 121
Appendix XI: Summary of Emerging Themes. 123

LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES

Tables:
Table 3.1: Data collection for the Intended Study 26
Table 3.2: The themes for within-case analysis.. 30

Figures:
Figure 4.1: One example of Jays geometrical construct with GeoGebra37
Figure 4.2: One example of Lis exponential function constructs with
GeoGebra 42
Figure 4.3: One exampl e of school mathematics website on the topic:
transformations 45
Figure 4.4: One example of school mathematics website on the topic: angles in the
same segment.. 46
Figure 4.5: One example of linking algebra and geometry with GeoGebra by
Richard 46
Figure 4.6: One example of Tylers use of transformation activit y on
enlargement... 50
Figure 5.1: The general schema of teachers conceptions and practices integrating
GeoGebra 65

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND GLOSSARY OF TERMS


AST: Advanced Skills Teacher
Cabri: Cabri-Geometry
CAS: Computer Algebra System
DGS: Dynamic Geometry Software
GSP: Geometers Sketchpad
ICT: Information and Communication Technology
IGI: International GeoGebra Institute
IT: Information and Technology
NCETM: The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematic
OECD: Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development
OFSTED: Office for Standards in Education
PGCE: Postgraduate Certificate in Education
PISA: Program for International Student Assessment
TIMSS: Third International Maths and Science Study

GeoGebra has changed the way I teach Peter

CHAPTER 1

Introduction
Algebra is concerned with manipulation in time, and geometry is concerned
with space. These are two orthogonal, aspects of the world, and they represent
two different points of view in mathematics. (Michael Atiyah)

1.1 Research Context


Algebra and geometry are two core strands of mathematics curricula throughout the
world and are considered the two formal pillars of mathematics (Atiyah, 2001). It is
therefore not surprising that they have been specifically targeted by the field of
technology (Sangwin, 2007). Many researchers consider mathematics education as
one of the earlier education fields to introduce technology as an assistant tool in
classrooms (Papert, 1980; Hoyles and Sutherland, 1989; Noss and Hoyles, 1996).

The dynamic and symbolic nature of computer environments can provoke


students to generalise and formalise and make links between their intuitive
notions of mathematics and the more formal aspects of mathematical knowledge.
(Godwin and Sutherland, 2004:131-132)
The major application of technology in mathematics education is the integration of
mathematical software in teaching practices. In respect of geometry, the most widely
used computer applications, known as Dynamic Geometry Software (DGS) and
include, Cabri-gomtre and Geometers Sketchpad (GSP), etc. One important feature
of DGS is the drag mode, encouraging interactions between teachers, students and
mathematics (Jones, 2000). The drag mode can be used to explore and visualise
geometrical properties by dragging objects and transforming figures in ways beyond
the scope of traditional paper-and-pencil geometry (Laborde, 2001; Ruthven, 2005).
DGS also has options to visualise the paths of objects as they move. For algebra, the
most widely used applications are known as Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) and

include programmes such as Mathematica, Maple and Derive. Some graphical


visualisation and symbolic representations of algebraic expressions are implemented
in CAS (Kokol-Vojic, 2003). CAS software processes algebraic variables, equations
and functions and provides immediate computations (Harris, 2000; Lavicza, 2007).
These provide opportunities for investigation and checking as feedback can be given
promptly which assists the learning of algebraic topics.
Using the metaphor of the two formal pillars of mathematics, geometry and algebra
are afforded prominent positions especially at the secondary level (Hohenwarter and
Jones, 2007). However, the connection between geometry and algebra, namely the
beam connecting the two pillars, is apparently missing, as evident that in some
countries geometry and algebra are entirely separate in their curricula (ibid).

Since CAS and DGS are two completely different mathematical constructs, the
beam is weakly constructed within current mathematical software. Historically,
CAS programmes have mainly provided algebraic and numerical computations while
DGS have provided graphical and dynamic demonstrations. Hohenwarter and Jones
(2007) point out that forms of CAS have begun to include graphing capabilities in
order to help to visualise mathematics; likewise, DGS have begun to include elements
of algebraic symbolisation in order to be useful for a wider range of mathematical
problems(p. 127) . In recent years, the need to integrate CAS and DGS has become
apparent as Schumann and Green (2000: 337) claim that [t]here is a need for further
software development to provide a single package combining the desired features [of
DGS and CAS]. The recently published software GeoGebra by Markus Hohenwater
(2004) explicitly links the two (as evidenced by the name Geometry and alGebra).
This integration aims to provide unprecedented opportunities for mathematics
education (Sangwin, 2007; Hohenwarter et al., 2007). GeoGebra affords a
bidirectional combination of geometry and algebra that differs from earlier software
forms. The bidirectional combination means that, for instance, by typing in an
equation in the algebra window, the graph of the equation will be shown in the
dynamic and graphic window. Similarly, by dragging the graph, the equation changes
accordingly (Hohenwarter and Fuchs, 2004). A closer connection between the
visualisation capabilities of CAS and the dynamic changeability of DGS is therefore
offered by GeoGebra (ibid).
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1.2 Rationale and Significance of the study


GeoGebra has the potential to clearly demonstrate to students the close connection
between geometry and algebra and is becoming a recognised part of mathematical
knowledge (Jones and Edwards, 2006; Hohenwarter and Jones, 2007). Edwards and
Jones (2006: 30) believe a significant feature of GeoGebra is its activities which
require high-level thinking and enable pupils to engage with the potential that
technology brings, such as learning through feedback, seeing patterns, making
connections, working with dynamic images, etc.

In addition, teachers and students can download and use GeoGebra at home as it is
open-source1 software. This outperforms commercial software such as GSP, Cabrigomtre or Autograph, which offer similar affordances (Lu 2007; Hohenwarter and
Preiner, 2007). There is therefore a growing belief among international mathematics
educators that GeoGebra has the potential to transform mathematics education
(Sangwin, 2007; Jones and Edwards, 2006). It must not be forgotten, however, that
teachers play a vital role in the enhancement of learning as they are the gateway to
larger cultures of knowledge, and no amount of technology will replace teachers in
this respect (Sutherland et al., 2004).

There is evidence of GeoGebra being used extensively around the globe; it has been
translated into forty languages and has been used by approximately a hundred
thousand teachers worldwide (Hohenwarter and Lavicza, 2007). However, systematic
enquiries into the effectiveness of GeoGebra in teaching practices are limited.
Consequently, this study aims to provide one of the first rigorous accounts of this
potentially liberating software and how it can support or enhance mathematics
teaching.

Cross-platform open source tools and collaborative software provides educators opportunities to join
an online community and overcome technological and financial barriers. All materials in this
environment are subject to a Creative Commons license that allows everyone to make customized
works for non-commercial purposes (Hohenwarter and Preiner, 2007).

There is a noticeable demand for the pedagogical development of technology


implementation in the teaching of geometry and algebra (Ruthven, 1990; 2002; 2005;
2008; Artigue, 2002, Sutherland et al., 2004; Hennessy, et al., 2005; Laborde, 2007).
My rationale behind carrying out this inquiry into GeoGebra is not only due to its
being open-source software with freely available support and online materials (Suzuki,
2006), but also due to its unique capacity to integrate geometry and algebra. The
significance of this research is not only the investigation of how GeoGebra usage can
be incorporated into the teaching of either geometry or algebra alone, but more
importantly, how the teaching of geometry and algebra can be linked using GeoGebra,
thus contributing to a better understanding for students of their interrelationships.
Studies such as this one will contribute to knowledge of GeoGebra-mediated teaching
and the future pedagogical development.

Recent research has indicated that culture influences the ways that teachers behave
and inter-culture differences appears to be stronger than intra-culture differences
(Schmidt et al., 1996; Givvin et al., 2005; Andrews, 2007). In particular, comparing
eastern and western traditions with their respective Confucian and Socratic
underpinnings can be enlightening as there are great differences in teacher beliefs and
practices (Leung, 1995; Tweed and Lehman, 2002; Andrews, 2007). There is little
comparative research of technology use in mathematics education, especially between
Eastern Asian and Western countries (Graf. and Leung, 2001). Consequently, seeing
how culture influences technology-mediated mathematics teaching in England and
Taiwan is a pertinent issue. The comparisons between the two countries will help
obtain a sense of the uniformities and dissimilarities of GeoGebra use. In so doing, I
decided to study the transformative potential of this software and its multiple uses as
well as providing further recommendations for its improvement in teaching practices.

1.3 Outline
Chapter 2 presents a review of theoretical and research literature illuminating the use
of technology in mathematics education. It also highlights teachers conceptions and
practices of new technologies for their teaching of geometry and algebra. Chapter 3

states the philosophical stance and methodology employed to conduct the study. It
also gives an account of the rationale for research design and the methods for data
collection and analysis undertaken on the issue of Taiwanese and English teachers
ways of using GeoGebra. Presentation and analysis of the multiple-case study are
reported in Chapter 4. Results and findings of the study followed by discussion,
reflection and implications for further research are presented in the final chapter.

CHAPTER 2

Literature Review

2.1. Introduction
In this chapter, I firstly review the general role of technology in education and its
contribution to mathematics education, followed by an exploration into the ways in
which mathematical software is used to support mathematics teaching. Secondly, I
give an account of the relationships between teachers conceptions and practices in
relation to their software usage. Thirdly, the decision for a cross-cultural approach is
described by looking at comparative mathematics education. In the final part, I focus
on the research questions extracted from the paradigm used.

2.2 The Role of Technology in Mathematics Education


2.2.1 Technology Integration in Education

There has been an increasing awareness that interactions between humans and
technologies can facilitate effective teaching and learning (e.g. Hennessy et al., 2005;
Arcavi, 2003). During the 1990s, Information Technology (IT) was a term reserved
for computers and other electronic data handling and storage devices used to provide
speedy automatic functions, capacity and range (Monaghan, 1993; Andrews, 1996).
More recently, the word communication was incorporated to acknowledge the
increase in interaction between people and technology; this is widely known as
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and is a term extensively used in
the UK. Kennewell (2004: 4) explains that the term ICT covers all aspects of
computers, networks (including the internet) and certain other devices with
information storage and processing capacity, such as calculators, mobile phones and

automate control devices. I, therefore, use the term ICT to refer to new technologies
with an emphasis on communication.

In the context of education, ICT integrates teaching and learning as a complete


activity, which has a number of features. Kennewell (2004) points out that some key
features that ICT can offer in this respect are speed and automatic functions, capacity,
range and interactivity. Deaney et al. (2006: 465) identify teachers practical theory
concerning the contribution of ICT to education as:

Broadening classroom resources and references;

Enhancing working processes and produces;

Mediating subject thinking and learning;

Fostering more independent pupil activity;

Improving pupil motivation towards lessons.

The practical theory could be seen as a starting point for the development of explicit
models of ICT into different subject teaching and learning. Nevertheless, after
decades attempting to incorporate technology in education, it is still problematic
(Cuban et al., 2001). A pervading notion suggests that ICT alone cannot enhance
learning (Godwin and Sutherland, 2004; Noss and Hoyles, 2003). In light of this issue,
the constraints preventing some teachers from using ICT to help students learn has
been examined (Sutherland et al., 2004). Four barriers to implementing ICT in the
classroom are pinpointed as (Steen, 1988; Brown, 2001):

Accessibility of computers: teachers and students need ready and regular


access to computers;

Openness of programmes: they must be easily available and the emphasis is


on learning the mathematics rather than the programme;

Curriculum scope: teachers pedagogical practices through using ICT along


with the curriculum need to be accomplished more effectively;

ICT competence: individual teachers level of confidence and skills in ICT.

Consequently, it has been suggested that further areas for development in terms of the
contribution that ICT lends to education include: improvements in pedagogical

development and teacher training of ICT competence (Ofsted, 2004; Johnston-Wilder


and Pimm, 2005; Webb and Cox, 2004; Glbahar, 2007).

2.2.2 An Overview of Technology Use in Mathematics Teaching

With the introduction of ICT to mathematics education, one question to consider is


whether mathematics education changes when ICT is introduced? Hershkovitz
and Schwartz (1999) research the differences between ICT-integrated environment
and paper-and-pencil environment and suggest that the paper-and-pencil environment
is relatively passive in supporting learning. Current studies have found that there are
changes in terms of active engagement with the implementation of ICT into
mathematics education as ICT holds higher efficiency in mathematics manipulation
and communication as well as interactivity between teachers, students and
mathematics (Hershkovitz, et al, 2002).

Nevertheless, the paper-and-pencil environment has simplicity and convenience that


cannot be ousted from classroom practices. It can be argued that inappropriate uses of
ICT may potentially block teaching and learning processes in problem-solving and
justifying, or perhaps create cognitive obstacles in understanding (Yerushalmy, 2005;
Arzarello, 2005). Bramald et al. (2000) concur and warn against underestimating the
effect of the personal relationship existing between teacher and student. They cite it as
an important factor in successful educational development. Since ICT and paper-andpencil environments both have advantages and disadvantages, it is not necessary to
separate them but to combine them. Considering the integration of both ICT and
paper-and-pencil can be beneficial; the implementation of ICT into mathematics
education has been the main direction of current research in the field of mathematics
education and ICT (Ruthven et al. 2008; Sutherland et al., 2004; Becker, 2001; Cuban
et al., 2001).

Despite official encouragement and enormous investment across the developed


world, the global movement to integrate digital technologies into school
mathematics has had limited impact on mainstream classrooms (Ruthven et al.,
2008:1)

Since the implementation of ICT in classroom practices has been slow, recent studies
shift their attention to the role of the teacher as a mediator for appropriate integration
of ICT into teaching practices (Becta, 2004; Ruthven et al., 2008; Sutherland et al.,
2004). Teachers pedagogical knowledge in the use of ICT to bolster students
learning requires them to tackle potential problems (Ofsted, 2004). Possible
misunderstandings may arise from multiple representations within the software, or
improper use of ICT to investigate mathematical ideas (Deaney et al., 2006). In effect,
there is a constant demand for teachers pedagogical development of embedding ICT
into everyday classroom practice to occur (Godwin and Sutherland, 2004; Hennessy
et al., 2005; Kendal and Stacey, 2001). Consequently, one of my main focuses is
researching teachers instructional practices incorporating technology.

2.2.3 Cross-Cultural Studies on Technology and Mathematics Teaching

Since there is evidence that each educational system has a different approach to
mathematics education (Schmidt et al., 1996; Stigler and Hiebert, 1999), one crucial
question to address is what precisely is meant by mathematics education? in
different cultural contexts. Would it be possible to address multiple definitions of
mathematics education by comparing and contrasting different cultural traditions and
approaches to mathematics?

To all intents and purposes, cross-cultural studies usually refer to comparative studies
(Kaiser, 1999a). Osborn (2004: 265) argues that comparative approaches which
combine careful measurement with up-close, deep understanding of real-world
contexts, can be a very powerful mix. The most crucial reason for conducting such
cross-cultural research is that it may contribute towards improving the approaches to
mathematics teaching, thereby providing a better understanding of the context of
different environments (Conway and Sloane, 2005). The contribution of cross-cultural
studies is processed as a means of conveying in a powerful and compelling form
significant applied and theoretical insights across a range of disciplines and
professional fields (ibid: 13).

There are large-scale quantitative studies such as TIMSS 2 and PISA3 and small-scale
qualitative studies, for example, Andrews and Sayers (2004) comparative research in
five European countries. These studies highlight both similarities and differences
between mathematics education in different cultural contexts in depth and in breadth.
Large scale surveys are limited, however, by the fact that they often compare
students academic achievements without taking cultural and social factors into
consideration (Prais, 2007). Quantitative studies such as TIMSS have also been
reproached for their uncritical evaluation and for promoting globalisation over
curricular and cultural diversity (Andrews, 2007). In contrast, small qualitative studies
acknowledge cultural differences without attempts for generalisation. Particularly,
when comparing East Asian and Western traditions with their respective Confucian
and Socratic underpinnings, there is a significant difference between what are
classically designed with the educational traditions (Leung, 1995; Kaiser et al., 2005;
Tweed and Lehman, 2002). In particular, Kaiser et al. (2005) proposed a framework
analysing East Asian and West European cultural traditions in mathematics education.
The framework is listed as follows:

Understanding of mathematical theory- scientific knowledge versus


pragmatic understanding

Organisation by subject structure versus spiral-type curriculum

Introduction of new mathematical concepts and methods

The position and function of proofs

Focus on justifications or rules versus work with examples

The role of precise language

The role of real-world examples

Teaching and learning styles

The framework by Kaiser et al. is adapted partially in terms of teaching styles as I


undertake a small-scale qualitative study in countries that exemplify East and West
with a focus on teachers perspective and their use of technology in mathematics
teaching. The Eastern country chosen is Taiwan since it is viewed as the one most
often cited admiringly by educators in the West for the level of its students

2
3

TIMSS- Third International Maths and Science Study


PISA- Program for International Student Assessment

10

educational achievements (Broadfoot, et al., 2000: 13) and a high mathematics


performing country in international comparative studies such as TIMSS and PISA
(Mullis, 2003; OECD, 2004; 2007). The Western country chosen for the study is
England due to its contrasting educational system (Broadfoot et al., 2000).

2.2.4 England and Taiwan- two opposite systems?

Taiwan and England are at two ends of a value and beliefs continuum, as Taiwan is
influenced by the Confucian-heritage culture of learning (Wong, 2004), in contrast
with English Socratic tradition. Taiwanese core educational values are centred on
Collectivism, based on a teacher-centred classroom culture, whereas in England,
Individualism seems to predominate around a student-centred ideal (Osborn et al.,
2000; Hofstede, 1986). Jacques (1996) compares Taiwanese and English educational
systems pointing out that the Taiwanese educational system has: a commitment to all
children succeeding which means that, unlike Britain, there is no trailing edge of
failure (p.1). Despite Taiwanese students high level of apparent achievement in
response to a particular teaching style or curriculum emphasis, I would argue that the
influence of a rigorous exam-oriented training and rote-learning culture should also be
taken into account.

It appears that the awareness and perceptions of using technology in mathematics


education varies from nation to nation as education is influenced by the social
environment, economic state and historical background as well as by cultural
traditions (Graf. and Leung, 2001). Technology has been integrated in different ways
internationally, often due to the availability of financial funding. Taiwan is one of the
Asian Tiger economies (Jacques, 1996). Provided that both countries in my study
have sufficient finances for computer technology, investigating the ways in which it is
used differently can be significant.

The use of technology in Taiwan is relatively scarce as it has not been developed and
researched to as great a degree as in England. Taiwanese research shows little
awareness of technology practicability in secondary schools (Hung and Hsu, 2007),
except that, GSP is the most widely used mathematical software for secondary school
mathematics (Yen, 2003). Compared with England, the use of technology in Taiwan
11

seems underdeveloped in terms of professional training, curriculum and educational


policy in teaching practices.

The notion of technology usage as a provider of information in the teaching of


mathematics has become evident in a significant number of countries cross the world.
After surveying the literature of cultural studies, I contend that not enough
comparative research in technology and mathematics education has been done despite
a few examples of research (e.g. Kyriakidou et al., 1999; Graf. and Leung, 2001).
Consequently, there is also a lack of theoretical frameworks for cross-cultural studies
on teachers uses of technology in Eastern and Western cultural contexts.
2.2.5 Teachers beliefs, conceptions and practices

To investigate the ways in which teachers use technology, it would be necessary to


study how their views, attitudes, beliefs, or conceptions influence their practices as
research suggests that teachers conceptions are crucial factors with regard to their
practices (Thompson, 1992). Teachers behaviour and choices of technologies can be
seen related to their attitudes, conceptions and beliefs; accordingly, this would
influence their technology integration into instructional practices. Therefore, an
understanding of teachers conceptions in relation to their practices is necessary in
order to allow a reflective transfer of effective measures from one system to another
(Kaiser, 1999b; Andrews, 2007). There have been studies examining the relationships
between teachers beliefs of mathematics and their instructional practices which
indicate that they are related in a complex way (Thompson, 1984; Ernest, 1989).

There are factors, such as cultural underpinnings of practices and sources of cultural
and educational traditions that influence mathematics teaching, teachers beliefs,
conceptions and practices. However, the complexity of terms in relation to beliefs,
such as conceptions, attitudes and views are difficult to delve into, therefore,
researchers have organised beliefs into belief systems which can be called
conceptions (Nespor, 1987; Ernest, 1989). Thompson (1992) defines conceptions as
conscious or subconscious beliefs, concepts, meaning, rules, mental images and
preferences (p. 132). I adopt the term conceptions providing clarity of the

12

inclusiveness of terms. In the following, I examine literature in relation to teachers


instructional practices with technology.

2.3 Teaching algebra and geometry with Technology


Providing immediate graphing and calculation to benefit mathematics teaching and
learning are some of the merits of technology (Papert, 1996; Hoyles and Jones, 1998;
Noss and Hoyles, 1996). Wright (2005) asserts that ICT, particularly mathematical
software, helps to provide better visual and dynamic representations of abstract ideas
and the links between symbols, variables and graphs. Consequently, I have chosen to
investigate the ways in which teachers gain from using mathematical software in their
teaching practices. In the following sections, I discuss mathematical software used for
teaching geometry and algebra, followed by an account of open-source software and a
combination system of geometry and algebra. I then position my research and identify
research questions.

Generally, there are several types of software used in the teaching of mathematics:
Computer Algebra System (CAS), Dynamic Geometry Software (DGS) such as GSP,
Cabri-gomtre, and open source software- Java Applets, GeoGebra, etc. (Laborde,
2001; 2003; 2007; Strsser, 2001; Kokol-Voljc, 2003). Each form is generally
associated with particular aspects of mathematical teaching and learning. For example,
CAS is often used for teaching algebraic topics, whilst DGS programmes are used for
geometrical topics. CAS focuses on manipulation of expressions and DGS
concentrates on relationships between points, lines circles and so on (Schneider,
2007). However, such distinctions are not always clear with considerable overlap due
to the duality of mathematics in terms of geometry and algebra. Schumann and Green
(2000) state that graphical, numerical and algebraic should not be considered
separate, but rather as constituting a holistic comprehensive computer-aided
approach (p.324). The awareness of integrating graphical, numerical and algebraic
representations has become noticeable in recent years.

13

Pederson (2004) claims that geometry is a skill of the eyes and the hands as well as
the minds. There are more visual and dynamic areas in geometry than in algebra.
Since mathematical software offers great visualisation capability and dynamic
changeability for teaching, it is well placed to support this important element. The
properties of DGS and the ways in which it supports learning are demonstrated in the
following.

Dynamic geometrical constructions, visualisation for motions of objectives by


dragging and investigation under various angles are some affordances of DGS
(Laborde, 1998; Osta, 1998; Olivero, 2003; Healy and Hoyles, 2001). Laborde (1998)
emphasises the properties of DGS on a real model for the theoretical field of
Euclidean geometry where it is possible to handle theories in a physical sense. The
feedback of diagrams resulting from the use of geometrical primitives is also a vital
component of DGS. There are a myriad of opportunities offered by DGS. These are:
the direct interaction with the tools provided by the system that allows construction,
manipulation and exploration of figures and discovery of the relationships between
multiple representations. Also, the essential features of DGS are efficiency in
mathematics manipulation and communication for learning. Furthermore, the efficient
coupling of visual representation with other forms of representations and interactivity
between students and mathematics can enhance learning (Healy and Hoyles, 2001).
DGS is not only for teacher demonstrations but also for students interactive learning.

Potentially, some mathematical software programmes offer algebraic and numerical


computations and symbolic representation providing the linkage between multiple
representations. This sort of mathematical software, known as Computer Algebra
System (CAS), include: Derive, Mathematica, Maple, etc (Fey et al., 1995; Ruthven,
2002; Kendal et al., 2005). CASs can work with strings of symbols enabling students
to concentrate on developing their conceptual understanding of mathematics (Keller
and Russell, 1997; Shaw, 1997; Cuoco, 2002). Ruthven (2008a:1) argues that when it
comes to mainstream use of these technologies, the uptake of dynamic geometry has
been wider and more longstandingsimilar studies are currently lacking for computer
algebra. This can be explained by Artigue (2002:1): professional mathematicians
and engineers know that these sophisticated new tools do not become immediately
efficient mathematical instruments for the user: their complexity does not make it
14

easy to master, and fully benefit from, their potential. Yerushalmy (2004) mentions
the transformation of the content of algebra curricula by technology as this new
digital culture may shift teachers pedagogical strategy. However, the transitions
between fundamental concepts and operations remained the difficult and non-trivial
parts (Yerushalmy, 2004: 19) and still needs further research. Ruthven (2008a: 1)
researches the specific examples of computer algebra and dynamic geometry, and
highlights three important dimensions- interpretative flexibility, instrumental
evolution and institutional adoption-of the incorporation of new technologies into
educational practices. The interpretative flexibility of technologies refers to varied
conceptions of technologys functionalities and modalities of use (ibid). The
instrumental evolution of scenarios is categoried as four types: a convenient parallel
to paper-and-pencil, invariant properties through visual salience under dragging, new
types of solution to familiar problems and posing novel forms of problem. The
institutional adoption means that the official curriculum should show explicit
recognition and provide the instrumental genesis of manual tools. These three
dimensions cover the major issues concerning the incorporation of new technologies
into mathematics teaching.

Although research into current technology use of computer algebra and dynamic
geometry in teaching practices separate each sphere into distinct areas for study; I
argue against this separation as there are areas overlapping algebra and geometry such
as functions and graphs (Dubinsky and Harel, 1992). Examining both together has
great educational implications and the connections between the two should not be
ignored (Edwards and Jones, 2006). However, there is a gap in the literature dealing
with this linkage between both fields and the use of technology. Despite an awareness
of the need for a combination of DGS and CAS (Hohenwarter and Fush, 2004),
software designers struggle to combine them as there are completely different
constructs in software design. GeoGebra could be seen as pioneering software,
although whether or not it is successful in linking DGS and CAS still needs research
as the supporting evidence is limited at present.

One problem is that most mathematical software in mainstream use is commercial,


which means the availability of software is subject to the school or students finances.
Therefore, some teachers or students who cannot afford to buy commercial software
15

search for free, open-source software for their own purposes. The wide-spread usage
of open-source software is beyond researchers awareness since Hippel and Krogh
(2003) explain that the phenomenon of open-source software development shows
that users programme to solve their own as well as shared technical problems, and
freely reveal their innovations without appropriating private returns from selling the
software. There is positive potentiality and improvement offered by encouraging a
collaborative community of open-source software users and voluntary software
developers.

2.3.1 Geometry + Algebra= GeoGebra?

Hohenwarter (2004) developed GeoGebra with the intention of supporting secondary


mathematics teaching by bridging students understanding of the connection between
geometry and algebra. GeoGebra is a multi-platform dynamic mathematical software
with its window divided into two parts (Fig. 2.1, Hohenwarter, 2006) - Algebra
window (left side) and Geometry and Graphics window (right side).

Algebra Window

Geometry and Graphics Window

Figure 2.1: GeoGebra window- Algebra window and Geometry and Graphic window

16

On the one hand, GeoGebra is a dynamic geometry system, much like any other,
which works with points, vectors, segments, lines, and conic sections. On the other
hand, equations and coordinates can be entered directly into the grid at the bottom of
the window (Fig. 2.1). It provides a bidirectional combination and a closer connection
between visualisation capabilities of CAS and dynamic changeability of DGS.

Although most research attention on GeoGebra pertains to the teaching of geometry,


GeoGebra has great potential in the teaching of algebra which lies mainly in functions
and graphs. Functions can be defined algebraically and then changed dynamically
afterwards (Sangwin, 2007).

For example, by entering the equation y=x 2 the

corresponding graph can be seen directly. The visualisation of two windows provides
a connection between algebraic and geometric representations. It also works the other
way around, by dragging the line or curve of the graph to change the equation. The
change in the equation can be seen on the algebraic window. This encourages the
investigation of the connection between variables in the equations and graphs in a
bidirectional experimental way (Hohenwarter and Preiner, 2007). This is particularly
significant as it connects the crucial parts of multiple representations of mathematics,
which are numerical, algebraic, geometrical and graphical; far beyond the reach of
other DGS and CAS.

GeoGebra being open-source software may face criticism as it may be thought that
free software lacks quality control compared to commercial software. Acknowledging
that it would be insufficient to only provide free software without proper training and
collegial support, the International GeoGebra Institute (IGI)4, therefore, is organised
for supporting the collaboration between teachers and researchers and provides
professional development for teachers (Hohenwarter and Lavicza, 2007). Since it is a
non-profit organisation, funding has been sought mainly from Europe and the U.S.
(Hohenwarter et al., 2008). Teachers need a support system and professional
development to improve their skills in teaching mathematics using GeoGebra
(Hohenwarter and Preiner, 2007). With this guidance and support from IGI,
GeoGebra enhances teachers willingness to integrate this new technology into their
teaching practices. Despite its important ramifications, there has been little research
4 IGI is a virtual, not-for-profit organization which has established the following three goals: training
and support, development and sharing, and research and collaboration.

17

into this area. It is hoped that this cross-cultural study will contribute to the IGI
development of GeoGebra implementation in mathematic teaching in terms of
pedagogical strategies and innovative ways of using GeoGebra in classroom practices.
Nevertheless, one might ask the question: does GeoGebra offer sufficient linkage
between geometry and algebra?; does it provide both functionalities of DGS and
CAS? I, therefore, aim to explore whether GeoGebra offers linkage between
geometry and algebra in teachers practices.

2.4. Statement of Research Questions


A cross-cultural study between Taiwan and England will help obtain a sense of the
commanalities and discrepencies of teachers conceptions and practices in relation to
GeoGebra use. I have chosen to research at the upper-secondary level (students aged
15-18) as this level is less researched but is a crucial step for bridging students
secondary mathematics learning and higher education. Therefore, the overarching
research questions are:

What are the upper-secondary mathematics teachers conceptions of


technology in relation to GeoGebra in England and Taiwan?

In what manner is GeoGebra used for the teaching of geometry and algebra by
Taiwanese and English teachers?

How are the teachers conceptions of technology and GeoGebra related to


their teaching practices in both countries?

18

Chapter 3

Research Methodology

3.1 Introduction
The previous chapters were concerned with literature examining the use of technology
in mathematics education; particular attention was paid to the teachers perspective of
implementing mathematical software into classrooms. Also highlighted in the
literature was the apparent need for research on open-source software and possible
assistance of a cross-cultural approach. Integrating the literature review and research
questions, I outline my decisions with respect to my research design to address these
issues. The research design aims to investigate how the use of open-source software
supports the teaching associated with the links between geometry and algebra. In this
chapter, I introduce the theoretical framework used for research design, epistemology,
theoretical perspective, methodology and methods followed by a discussion of
research considerations.

3.2 Theoretical Framework


The research process often follows a certain path, beginning with the problem to be
solved or an issue, which then becomes the core concern of the study. This is
followed by identifying research questions, reviewing the literature, choosing research
methods, developing the research design, collecting data, analysing the data,
interpreting the results, formulating conclusions and identifying implications (Robson,
2002; Cohen et al., 2007; Creswell, 2007).

19

Theoretical frameworks for methodological rationale can be used to assist researchers


in highlighting and structuring the range of approaches, and the methods to
investigate their research questions. Crotty (1998) proposes a general framework
containing four elements: epistemology, theoretical perspective, methodology and
methods. Epistemology deals with how education researchers can know the reality
they wish to describe the belief they have about the nature of that reality (Scott and
Morrison, 2005: 84). The theoretical perspective here means the philosophical stance
lying behind the methodology (Crotty, 1998:66). Methodology holds the assumption
that a researcher conceptualises the research process in a certain way (Creswell, 2007)
and detailed procedures of data collection, analysis and writing, are called methods
(Creswell, 2003). This framework allows careful development of research processes.
These elements help researchers answer how their philosophical underpinnings,
epistemology and theoretical perspectives relate to methodology and methods.

3.3 Epistemology and Theoretical Perspective


Epistemology helps researchers make sense of research information transforms it into
data detailing how that analysis might be patterned, reasoned, and compiled and
shows the belief they have about the nature of the reality they describe (Willis, 2007;
Creswell, 2007; Scott and Morrison, 2005). In the following, I provide a brief
description of the philosophical theories and discuss the justifications of my
theoretical perspective.
Crotty (1998) points out the great divide between objectivist research and
constructionist/subjectivist research. Acknowledging there is a debate against this
divide (Howe, 2003), my discussion of epistemology still targets these two strands as
they are representative of the mainstream research. On the one hand, positivism
claims that knowledge exists whether we are conscious of it or not (Crotty, 1998;
Cohen et al., 2007). Post-positivism has a commitment to objectivity but is
approached by recognising that reality or knowledge can only be known imperfectly,
and researchers biases yield limitations in the production of knowledge (Philips and
Burbules, 2000; Robson, 2002). My research focuses on the usage of mathematical

20

software by teachers to help construct meanings for students. Reflecting on my


research questions, I inquire as to how technology is used by teachers in their teaching
practices; therefore, I do not take the position of assuming that knowledge is
independent

from

social

construction.

The

positivist

and

post-positivist

epistemologies are not applicable to my research as it is my belief that knowledge


exists through human interactions with social environment and technologies.

On the other hand, constructionist and subjectivist epistemologies acknowledge


different sets of beliefs. For instance, constructionism is the belief that knowledge is
constructed by people and we come to know through our interactions with others;
each one of us constructs his or her own knowledge based on a unique set of
experiences with the world (Bassey, 1999). Social constructionism, more specifically,
is the understanding of the world and each other as socially constructed through our
interaction with the environment (Crotty, 1998; Robson, 2002; Creswell, 2007).
Interpretivism is a quest to generate understanding of the subjective world of human
experiences. In symbolic interactionism, people act on the basis of the meanings and
understandings that they develop through group actions and interactions (Blumer,
1969; Crotty, 1998; Cohen, 2007).

Due to the research focus being the subjective nature of various perceptions of
teachers use of technology; I have not attempted to claim to be an objectivist. I see
knowledge as constructed within interactions that people have with other people or
social environments. In my view, meaning and understanding of knowledge are
created, constructed and negotiated rather than told, given or shown. Thus, humans
construct meaning in engaging with the world through their interpretation of it. In
taking a constructionist epistemology, I adopt an interpretivist theoretical perspective
with a view of symbolic interactionism as I look at teachers accounts of mathematics
teaching through technology, as teachers act on their understandings and beliefs
about the use of technology in classroom practices.

I agree with the ontological assumption that reality is subjective and multiple as
evidenced by participants responses in the study (Creswell, 2007). However, I do not
intend to find evidence of multiple realities on multiple quotes from individuals to
present different perspectives. Ontological questions such as: what is the nature of
21

mathematics and what is the pedagogy of mathematics are not the focal point of my
research, but rather the epistemological questions about how technology can help to
construct an understanding of mathematics and how GeoGebra can be used
interactively to scaffold the construction of mathematics knowledge. In an attempt to
discover the answers to my research questions, I have tried to minimise the distance
or objective separateness between those being researched and myself (Guba and
Lincoln, 1988: 94).

3.4 Methodology
3.4.1 Selection of Appropriate Research Approach

Before discussing the methodology, I revisit my research questions in the light of the
decision concerning theoretical perspective. The questions informed by the literature
are: What are the upper-secondary mathematics teachers conceptions of technology
and GeoGebra in England and Taiwan? ; in what manner is GeoGebra used for the
teaching of geometry and algebra by Taiwanese and English teachers? how are the
teachers conceptions of technology and GeoGebra related to their teaching practices
in both countries?

In order to answer these questions and select an appropriate research approach, I


begin with an investigation of three approaches to research suggested by Creswell
(2003), namely qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. Quantitative research and
statistical data mainly provide the knowledge about what is happening, rather than
why or how (McKnight, et al., 2000). Mixed methods research considers the
knowledge for both what is happening and why or how and could be considered for a
large-scale project as both breadth and depth of a research topic can be examined.
These approaches are not applicable to the study as my inquiry of knowledge is based
on how questions in a small scale approach. My proposed research lends itself to the
qualitative approach, as it tends to focus on a single concept or phenomenon, bringing
personal values into the study, studying the context or settings of participants and
validating the accuracy of findings (Creswell, 2003).

22

Yin (2003) states that case studies are the preferred strategy when how or why
questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and
when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon with some real-life context.
Amongst all qualitative research traditions, a case study would fit best with my
methodology in relation to the how research questions I have proposed.
Consequently, I have chosen to use case study research, as I do not intend to study
historical or phenomenological perspectives of the research topic.

3.4.2 Case Study Research Approach

Case studies examine the particularity and complexity of a bounded system, single
case or multiple cases over time (Stake, 1995; Bassey, 1999). The method involves
the detailed, in-depth data collection and recording of data about a case or cases,
involving multiple sources of information rich in context (Creswell, 2007: 73). Stake
(2006) categorises two types of case studies: single-case and multiple-case studies. A
single case study can be seen as a single scrutiny bounded by time and activity that
necessitates the collection of detailed information (Merriam, 1998). Multiple-case
studies are special efforts to examine something having a number of cases, parts or
members when four to fifteen cases are involved (Stake, 2006) as a larger number of
cases might require different methodology to tackle. They aim to answer specific
questions, involve an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary
phenomenon and seek a range of multiple sources of evidence (Robson, 2002). The
evidence has to be abstracted and collated to get the best possible answers to the
research questions (Stark and Torrance, 2000). My study examines teachers
mathematical software uses in Taiwan and England, and thus involves multiple-cases
rather than a single case. Multiple-case studies help obtain valuable information from
different cases between countries and therefore they are used as my main research
strategy.

As the rapid growth of technology use in secondary schools is a relatively modern


phenomenon (Hennessy et al., 2003; Laborde, 2003; Deaney, et al. 2006), there is
little research into the use of open-source software to guide this investigation. In view
of my research assumption that GeoGebra may be useful in upper-secondary
23

mathematics teaching, and by exploring these case studies, I can have a deeper
understanding of how GeoGebra is adopted by teachers. Thereby I comprehend the
applications for possible usage and affordances using the case study approach. Yin
(2003) writes that case studies can be exploratory, descriptive or explanatory. The
object of this study is framed into the exploratory model though elements of
explanatory and descriptive models are in use inside this context. In order to
investigate GeoGebra, which is a new tool, I emphasise that my multiple case studies
are not simply aimed at describing or explaining how GeoGebra can be used, but
rather exploring its potentialities in supporting mathematics teaching. Since there is
little research into GeoGebra usage to date, this study is exploratory (Marshall and
Rossman, 2006; Creswell, 2007).

In brief, exploratory and multiple-case studies are my chosen methodology as the


research focuses on this particular mathematical software, requiring specific teachers
who utilise GeoGebra to teach upper-secondary level mathematics. Comparing and
contrasting cases of teachers with interest in using GeoGebra from Taiwan and
England provide a comprehensive understanding of how GeoGebra can be used in
two very different cultural traditions, pedagogies and curricula.

I define mathematics teaching with the use of GeoGebra in Taiwan and England as
the two main units of analysis. These have embedded cases of teachers who use this
software. Moreover, within the units, four cases of English and Taiwanese teachers
are studied to obtain evidence of their views on GeoGebra teaching practices.
Studying teachers use of technology in two countries invokes a particular
methodological response asking what is comparable? In order to compare,
conceptual, linguistic, measurement and sampling equivalence must be ensured
(Warwick and Osherson, 1973, cited Osborn, 2004). To achieve the comparability
between cases and units, pre-determined themes: teacher background, views on
technology and GeoGebra, software comparisons and ways of using GeoGebra have
been set for research design and data collection which are illustrated as follows.

24

3.5 Methods

3.5.1 Data Collection

The emerging issues of my research are teacher conceptions of mathematics teaching


and learning in relation to GeoGebra and its usage in teaching geometry and algebra. I
also consider teachers conceptions of strengths and weaknesses of GeoGebra for
upper-secondary mathematics teaching both in Taiwan and in England. To delve into
my research questions comprehensively, I explore the reasons for, and ways of,
utilising GeoGebra. Following a qualitative research approach and multiple-case
study methodology, the data was collected mainly through interviews with teachers.
In seeking to gain insights into professional perceptions of the role of teachers for
integrating GeoGebra in practice, I was mindful of the opportunity for informative
interviews with GeoGebra creator and an advance user.
To gain a more in depth picture for each case, I espoused data triangulation (Denzin
and Lincoln, 2008) for different resources and information with respect to using
GeoGebra and teaching with the use of GeoGebra. This serves as a means by which
the weaknesses of one data collection technique could be compensated for by the
strengths of another technique. External information about technology facilities and
technological issues might also be investigated through observations, documentation,
informal conversations and e-mail communications with the teachers. The methods I
intend to use for data collection in my case studies are fully documented in Table 3.1.

25

Table 3.1: Data collection for the Intended Study


Data collection

Participants

Techniques

Data

Aim of data collection

Documentation

Teachers

GeoGebra-

Print-outs

Teachers and

Informal

Teachers

communications

related

researchers views in

websites,

respect to GeoGebra and

teaching

its teaching as well as

materials.

technical problems

Emails and

Field-notes To achieve feedback and

GeoGebra-

confirmation from the

related

teachers

websites
Formal

Teachers

interviews

Video

Transcripts To provide insightful

recording

and targeted evidence


directly on the case
study topic

Observations of

Teachers

Note-taking

Field notes To obtain a more holistic

teachers

sense of the ways

mathematics

teachers utilise the

constructs with

software

GeoGebra
Informative

GeoGebra

Video

Transcripts To obtain in-depth

Interviews

creator and

recording

evidence of practical

advanced

usage of the software

users

from international
perspectives and
disciplines

3.5.2 Interviews
Interviews have a central importance in social research because of the power of
language to illuminate meaning (Legard et al., 2003: 139) and can provide access to
the meanings people attribute to their experiences and social worlds. Therefore,

26

interviews are the focus of my research and the major method for data collection.
However, interviews can take different forms for various purposes. This next section
discusses these in relation to my research questions.

There are a number of interview types with different terms used. For instance, Denzin
and Lincoln (2008) categorise interviews as structured and unstructured interviewing,
group interviewing, creative interviewing, post-modern interviewing, gendered
interviewing and electronic interviewing. Bogdan and Biklen (1992) add semistructured interviews. I offer a summery of these types of interviews with their
strengths and weaknesses before explaining why I dismiss them as inappropriate.

Unstructured interviews have questions that emerge from the immediate context and
are asked in the natural course of discussion with no predetermination of question
topics or wording (Cohen et al., 2007; Patton, 1980). They allow for the salience and
relevance of questions but are less systematic. However, the interview flexibility in
sequencing and wording questions can result in substantially different responses, thus
reducing the comparability of responses. Structured interviews use predetermined
questions and fixed response categories. Data analysis of this sort of interview data is
simple but may be perceived as impersonal, irrelevant and mechanistic (Cohen et al.,
2007). I have chosen not to use these approaches, as they do not fit the nature of my
exploratory and multiple-case study. I also require the data not only to be comparable
between cases but also exploratory which means there is space for interviewees to
express their thinking without any influence by directive interview questions.

Consequently, semi-structured interviews can be useful for my research as wording of


opening questions can be determined in advance (Patton, 1980). As the interviews
were conducted in Taiwan and England, translation of wording might create problems
in respect of reliability. To increase the comparability of responses, the use of exact
wording in interview questions can reduce this concern. Pre-determined set questions
also reduce interview effects and bias and facilitate organization and analysis of the
data (Cohen et al., 2007).

27

There are some strategies for achieving depth of interviews through the use of content
mining questions (Legard et al., 2003: 150). These include amplificatory probes 5 ,
exploratory probes 6 , explanatory probes 7 and clarificatory probes 8 (Legard et al.,
2003). These interviewing strategies were employed to encourage participants to
elaborate on their thoughts. To ensure the interview data was being collected
appropriately with these strategies, I conducted pilot interviews with two teachers
prior to the formal interviews, to allow time for amendment of interview questions
and personal reflections. In the pilot study, I discovered that I could not gather useful
information when the teachers were not particularly skilful or experienced with
GeoGebra. I then decided to find teachers who have at least six months of experience
teaching with GeoGebra.

To get empirical experiences of GeoGebra usage from teachers, interviews assist in


grasping teachers points of view and personal accounts through talking about the
software. One may argue that the teachers might not show their authentic experiences
with the software through talking alone. As an aid to communication during the
interviews, a laptop with GeoGebra was prepared for the teachers. They were invited
to demonstrate their thoughts and ideas about GeoGebra that came up in the
discussion. This observational method was an interview aid and helped me understand
the ways in which they use the software and its related teaching tasks or activities.

3.5.3 Research Settings and Participants

Before introducing the criteria for selection of participants, I give a brief description
of the Taiwanese Education system. In Taiwan, formal schooling starts at the age of
six and includes two six-year phases: elementary and high school. High schools
include junior high schools (students in the 12-15 age range) and senior high schools
(upper-secondary equivalent, students aged 15-18). In England, the upper-secondary
level often refers to post-16 education. To ensure the age equivalence, I decided to
5

Amplificatory probes are used to encourage interviewees to elaborate further by questions such as
can you tell me a little more about ? (Legard et al. 2003: 150)
6
Exploratory probes help to explore the views and feelings that underlie descriptions of behaviour,
events or experience and show the meaning that experiences hold for interviewees (ibid).
7
Explanatory probes are repeatedly sought for reasons by asking why? (Legard et al. 2003: 151).
8
Clarificatory probes explore issues in depth, which require a high degree of precision and clarity
(ibid).

28

choose teachers who teach in the 15-18 age range as the upper-secondary level in both
countries.

The data collection took place in one grammar school and one Village College in
England and senior high schools in Taiwan. A total of four cases were involved in this
study. GeoGebra is newly-published open-source software with online resources and
networking on the GeoGebra User Forum. These GeoGebra related websites,
conferences, workshops and seminars provided a great opportunity to gain access to
the participants in both Taiwan and England. My focused participants were teachers
who are enthusiastic about and skilled in the use of GeoGebra in teaching, as they
have experience and knowledge of GeoGebras applications and limits.

3.5.4 Data Analysis

The use of multiple sources of evidence, with their strengths and weaknesses, is what
characterises a case study (Yin, 2003; Stake, 2006). A complete set of data was
collected from four school visits. All of the interviews were audio and video-recorded,
lasted for approximately an hour each and took place in classrooms using either a
laptop or a computer connected to an interactive whiteboard. Through observations
during the interviews the teachers demonstrated ways they utilised the software. The
interview data were collated and summarised for each of the four case studies. The
interview data was later transcribed (Full transcripts in Appendix I) according to the
predetermined themes for each case analysis.

To ensure the comparability, the framework proposed by Kaiser et al. (2005) was
partially adapted with a focus on teachers perspective of the use of technology. I predetermined the themes (Table 3.2) as a framework for the within-case analysis (Stake,
2006; Miles and Huberman, 1994). The decision for pre-determined themes is
because it is vital to explore and describe individual cases before comparisons
between cases, especially cases from two different countries. After within-case
analysis, similarities and differences between cases were noted through cross-case
analysis (Appendix II, Stake, 2006). I used a mixture of a priori analysis (top-down)
in relation to my research questions and inductive analysis (bottom-up) that allowed
new categories to emerge from the cross-case analysis (Dey, 1993). The transcriptions
29

of these interviews were subsequently highlighted by themes, which helped several


categories to emerge from the data.

Table 3.2: The themes for within-case analysis (adapted from Stake, 2006, P. 43)

Key Themes

Sub Themes

Examples of Interview Questions

Theme 1:

Teaching experience,

How many years have you been teaching?

Participant

acceptance of and

What grade or year of students have you

Background

participation with

taught/ do you teach?

technology
Student age and
achievement
Theme 2:

Teacher conceptions of

What to you think about GeoGebra?

Conceptions of

technology and

Do you think it provides linkage between

GeoGebra

GeoGebra, the teaching

geometry and algebra?

in relation to geometry
and algebra
Theme 3:

Strengths and

What advantages and disadvantages do

Software

weaknesses of

you think that GeoGebra has?

Evaluation

GeoGebra,
comparisons with other
softwares

Theme 4:

Ways of using

How do you use GeoGebra?

GeoGebra Usage

GeoGebra and its

For which topics do you use GeoGebra to

materials and websites

teach?

Reasons for the chosen

Why and in what ways do you teach

mathematical topics

them?

when teaching with

Do you use GeoGebra in bridging

GeoGebra

geometry and algebra?

During the cross-case analysis, new categories emerged from the data according to the
themes using the constant comparison method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). This
method has four distinct stages (Lincoln and Guba, 1985: 339):
1. comparing incidents applicable to each category;

30

2. integrating categories and their properties;


3. delimiting the theory, and
4. writing the theory.
The reason for my choice of constant comparative method is that the qualitative
analysts effort at uncovering patterns, themes, and categories is a creative process
that requires making carefully considered judgements about what is really significant
and meaningful in the data (Patton, 1990: 406). This is an important aspect where I
tended to display my data in an organised and compressed way that allowed me to
make verifiable findings (Denzin and Lincoln, 2008). A sequence of procedures was
involved, firstly, according to Creswell (2003), I read through the interview
transcripts several times to get an overall sense of the data. Secondly, I connected
relationships in the process of comparing and contrasting the data. After categorising
data by the themes, some categories were developed until the data was exhausted.
Thus, the final findings were discovered after delimitation.

3.5.5 Research Considerations


Some weaknesses of case studies are that they are not easily open to cross-checking,
hence they may be selective, biased, personal and subjective, and prone to problems
of observers bias, despite attempts made to address reflexivity (Cohen et al., 2007:
256). I was aware of these research weaknesses and tried to be objective both while
conducting the case studies and analysing the data. It could be argued that we cannot
avoid subjectivity. This is because even in quantitative studies that claim to be
objective, the data chosen and the procedures used to analyse the data go through a
human filter and thus rely on a certain level of subjectivity (McKnight et al., 2000).

If this study was not constrained by a time limit (Appendix III), it could be addressed
by a large-scale quantitative approach or by using mixed methods research. The
research questions could be elaborated in other ways, for instance, to what extent
does upper-secondary teachers use of GeoGebra highlight the relationship between
algebra and geometry?. Therefore, pragmatic views with a mixed-methods approach
could be applied for further or larger scale study.

31

Ethics

Letters of consent were sent to the teachers prior to the interviews (Appendices IV
and V). This was to give assurance that they remain anonymous in any written reports
arising from the study. The contents in the interviews are treated in the strictest
confidence.

Triangulation, Validity and Reliability

The theoretical perspective of the researcher and the nature of reliability and validity
are relative (Maxwell, 2002). Validity refers to the appropriateness, meaningfulness,
correctness, and usefulness of any inferences a researcher draws based on data
obtained through the use of an instrument (Fraenkel and Wallen, 2003). In the
qualitative research, the validity of interviews is dependent upon: depth, honesty,
extent of triangulation and objectivity of the researcher (Cohen, et al., 2007).
Reliability stands for the extent to which research findings can be replicated
(Merriam, 1998:205).

To ensure greatest validity and reliability, I took the following actions. I used
methodological

triangulation

(including

interviews

with

observation

and

documentation) to strengthen the validity (Yin, 2003; Cohen et al., 2007). Since there
were a variety of instruments for data collection: video-recording, audio-recording,
field-notes and observations - this enhanced the validity of the findings. When
interviewing the participants, I video-recorded all the conversations, allowing my
contribution to be identified and enabling more careful analysis of the participants
answers to be carried out. This also reduced the danger of data distortion due to
selective memory, thereby improving the reliability of the study. As similar wording
of open-ended questions (Appendix VI) was used for every participant, reliability of
the interviews could also be heightened.

32

CHAPTER 4
Data Analysis
This is different. This is maths by interacting;
This is maths by trying things out, by conjecturing, by having a go
Tyler

4.1 Introduction
This chapter discusses a summary of each teachers conceptions and practices of
technology and mathematics teaching in relation to the use of GeoGebra. It is
presented in accordance with the pre-determined themes in the methodology section,
that is: the teachers background, their conceptions of technologies and views on
GeoGebra compared to other mathematical software and their methods of using
GeoGebra. In order to report the cases in a systemic way, I follow Thompsons (1984)
framework for the data analysis to discuss each case study as they pertain to the four
themes.

This chapter is structured by the presentation of a mixture of a priori analysis (topdown) and inductive analysis (bottom-up) of the data. Firstly, within-case analysis of
the four individual cases by the pre-determined themes is demonstrated. Secondly, I
report two informative interviews with the software creator and one advanced user.
Finally, emerged categories from cross-case analysis and cross-cultural exploration
are discussed.

4.2 The Cases


In an attempt to validate the collected data, I volunteered to join the GeoGebra
translation team in Taiwan and have worked as a research assistant on the NCETM9
GeoGebra project. Through commonality of background along with my five-year
mathematics teaching experience, the Taiwanese teachers- Jay and Li were able to

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics where the GeoGebra project is
funded in the U.K.

33

talk openly, with a common understanding of the mathematical content and


educational system. My involvement with GeoGebra workshops, conferences and
seminars allowed me the opportunity to meet English teachers who use GeoGebra.
Since Richard and Tyler have acted, respectively, as a software developer and as a
GeoGebra trainer, they were enthusiastic, cooperative and willing to share their
thoughts and practices.

4.2.1 Jay
Background
Jay has been teaching mathematics for twelve years in two senior high schools in
Taiwan (students aged 15 -18) and has also worked as a system analysis engineer (SA)
in the field of IT for two years in the US. Being a SA engineer helped him perform
actively in translating software and develop advanced skills in using mathematical
software, such as GSP and GeoGebra. His mathematical knowledge was enriched
during his undergraduate study, when he majored in mathematics.

Views on the use of technology and GeoGebra in mathematics teaching


Jays views about the incorporation of technology into teaching practices are
generally more negative than positive. He inferred that both students and teachers
viewed computers as a tool for entertainment rather than a learning or teaching tool.
He described this phenomenon in relation to technology in Taiwan:

Nowadays, there is a reactionary phenomenon in Taiwan; students will notice the


software. However, they might think that they do not even have enough time to
learn mathematics, so how can they spend time learning and investigating the
software? We consider that there is an improvement through software use, but
they might think that it is going backwards.
Jays remarks about this situation also applied to the teachers:

People take the computers as a tool for entertainment rather than as a tool for
research. Consequently, teachers are no exception to be honest; most teachers
are not used to this software because using a computer itself is a challenge. At
present, it is still like this for most teachers.

34

Furthermore, he noted that the human brain does the thinking, believing that a
computer:
has its own limitation. It cannot do the logical and deductive thinking for you.
We need human brains to do that job. Some theories are a process of deduction.
The software itself helps to strengthen the fact that these are right; however, it
does not explain why they are right.
When he talked about students of higher abilities, he also devalued technology and
expressed that:

Mathematically talented students might not need to use this kind of software to
help them learn. Sometimes, doing mathematics is a matter of logical thinking
and deduction.
On the contrary, he held positive attitudes only with regard to GeoGebra. He claimed
GeoGebra to be a convenient tool, which can be used for demonstrations, checking
and visualisation as well as research. He states that: I would use this software for
drawing graphs or even calculation as it has command list functions for calculations.
They are very convenientI consider it convenient tool. He mentioned that
GeoGebra provides powerful capabilities that other software packages cannot offer:
It is actually very good, especially when you want to do addition and subtraction in
the grid coordinate system. He added that GeoGebra links algebra and geometry: as
you might know, its name is a combination of geometry and algebra. Therefore, I
think it has been done perfectly well regarding this part. His views on GeoGebra are
revealed in the following statements:

(a) It is difficult to display and demonstrate on the blackboard. This is what


makes GeoGebra stand out and it is really useful.
(b) It is easier for students to come to an understanding of the described situation
when we drag one point to see how it affects the motion of another point.
Otherwise, it is difficult to relate concepts to images...it makes life so much
easier having this software.

35

(c) Mathematics is alive, but when it is written in textbooks - it becomes dead.


Consequently, I use it to make mathematics come to life. It is resurrection
software!

In general, Jay was discouraged by the current educational environment regarding


technology and both students and teachers attitudes toward mathematical software in
Taiwan. He also asserted that support from mathematical software was limited as
human brains do the logical deduction. However, he emphasised that GeoGebra
provides quality functionalities that encouraged his use of this software in his teaching
practice.

GeoGebra evaluation in relation to other mathematical software

GeoGebra has been the most successful software among similar software
packages so far. It is very impressive because it has the capability of algebra. I
really must use it at certain times.
Jay highlighted GeoGebras distinguished features and made comparisons between
GSP and GeoGebra. He argues that:

GeoGebra has buttons that you can basically do the same thing apart from the
conic section. GSP is not good at that, as it does not have this function. In fact, it
does not have much about circles, only a few of them. On top of that, there are
parts like tangent lines, etc. that GSP does not have. GeoGebra, in contrast, is
very good at them, which make it very convenient for users. For instance, if you
use GSP to make tangent lines, it is very difficult as you need to calculate it
yourself at times.
However, he pointed out two weaknesses of GeoGebra: - the lack of the animation
button and iteration capability. Apart from these two parts, he thought GeoGebra
provides much better capabilities than GSP for mathematics teaching: The algebra
window and command line, especially the command line and the bottom part with
equation input. These are where GSP cannot even compare. It does not even have
these. He mentioned that his school purchased Cabri but he dismissed it due to its
lack of command line and algebraic window.

36

Ways of Using of technology and GeoGebra in mathematics teaching

There are different modes where Jay specifically used GeoGebra. He stated:
I mainly use GeoGebra as a tool for teaching and researching I use it as a
checking toolto test and verify thinking, or sometimes, when it is
inconvenient to draw graphs on the blackboard, I use it as a demonstration tool to
emphasise their impression.
He mostly used GeoGebra to teach Cartesian coordinate systems. Occasionally, Jay
used GeoGebra for preparation, investigation or classroom practice. He said:

I bring my laptop to the classroom whenever I need to. For example, to


demonstrate conic sections, it is very inconvenient to draw by hand.
Consequently, I use the software; enter equations, the graph shows up. You dont
need to draw for a long time and students think that is very cool.
He demonstrated examples of his strategies in operating GeoGebra with one of them
about the trace (Fig.4.1 and Appendix VII for step-by-step constructions).

Figure 4.1: One example of Jays geometrical construct with GeoGebra

37

He illustrated that:
We often see this kind of exercise in textbooks: one point moving on the edge of
a circle, if we take the perpendicular bisector of the segment to find the
intersection of another segment. We ask students what the trace of that
intersection is. Very often, students are dumbfounded after this long description.
If you draw the graph, they can visualise it so they can feel it... It really moves
along with a trace of an ellipse. At the least you can use it as a demonstration
tool.
His skilfulness at geometrical constructions and algebraic calculations are apparent,
however, he only used GeoGebra for presentational purposes which are strongly
bounded to textbooks. This limited inclusion of the software does not engage students
to its full potential.

The salient categories emerged from the data are listed as follows:
Tool use

Graphing, calculations, visualisation, demonstration, dragging,


checking, test and verify, teaching and research

Mathematics topics

Cartesian coordinate systems, both algebra and geometry

Teaching style

Textbook-oriented

Infrastructure

Laptop demonstration in the classroom

4.2.2 Li
Background

Li has thirteen years of teaching experience at the upper-secondary level (Year 10-12
equivalence) in Taiwan. Since his first degree was in applied mathematics, he gained
an interest in IT during his undergraduate study. He was enthusiastic about new
technologies and volunteered to translate the Traditional Chinese version of
GeoGebra. Moreover, he had been creative in using different software packages, free
software in particular, and trying to use a combination of different open-source
software to make teaching materials. He has written some journal articles comparing
new, free software packages detailing how they might be incorporated into
mathematics teaching for Taiwanese teachers. He maintains the school mathematics
website which includes GeoGebra related teaching and problem-solving materials. In
addition, he proposed and conducted GeoGebra training courses and workshops in
38

senior high schools in Taipei. He had also set up his website and uploaded his up-todate GeoGebra materials and step-by-step tutorial materials for students or teachers.

Views on technology and GeoGebra


Li had a similar opinion to Jay on students and teachers attitudes towards the use of
computers. He said:
I do not think the use of computers raised students motivation, because since
they were young, they perceived computers as a tool for entertainment. When
they discovered you can actually use computers for mathematics, they think it is
interesting but it still can not motivate them to learn mathematics with computers.
He also added that, Generally, people are afraid of using computers in teaching
mathematics because it feels different from using Microsoft Office on the computer
Consistent with Jays comment he also mentioned students passive attitudes about
technology in learning:
when you are demonstrating mathematics on the computer to students, some
of them at the back of the classroom might fall asleep if they are not interested.
They do feel that using computers is interesting but if you want them to use or
design with it, it is impossible. Using computers to them is for entertainment,
such as surfing the Internet, chatting, and playing computer games. Now some
students in my class can be called - kidnapped by the computer. They are
addicted to it.
Despite knowing how students and teachers feel about the software, he feels proud of
his achievements in developing and translating GeoGebra not to mention creating
related Traditional Chinese websites and GeoGebra teaching materials. His
enthusiasm for using GeoGebra when teaching mathematics was bountiful. He
insisted that: you can use GeoGebra to teach almost all topics. It is brilliant!

GeoGebra evaluation
Li had published one journal article about the comparisons between GSP and
GeoGebra. Four areas of differences between them were found: price, speed, Java10

10

One programming language- Java technologies are made available most as free software under
General Public Liscense.

39

and Latex 11 support and international cooperation. He believed that because


GeoGebra is free, its potential to have a great impact on mathematics education could
be all-pervading. In terms of speed, since GeoGebra has algebraic capabilities, some
graphs made by GSP could take more than ten steps, whereas in GeoGebra equations
are simply keyed in and the enter key pressed to form them. Furthermore, since
GeoGebra was written in Java language, it inherited the advantages of Java in terms
of multi-language, multi-platform and the support for Latex language. In his view, it
could be a great choice for mathematicians to discuss mathematical problems over the
GeoGebra websites such as user forums. This would serve as an international
community within which everyone could benefit from support of others.

By contrast, GSP is scarcely comparable to GeoGebra in these areas. However, he


highlighted one weakness of GeoGebra: In the Grade II (Year 11 equivalent), there
are topics like vectors in the space. It is trickier when it is in the 3D. Therefore, he
chose to use SketchUp for the three dimensional topics instead.

Ways of Using of technology and GeoGebra

Li has used GeoGebra for one and a half years trying many different ways of using it.
He is positive that exploiting GeoGebra can change students attitude towards
mathematics learning. Some of his designed teaching materials and tutoring examples
of using GeoGebra in solving examination problems were displayed on the websites.
He also encouraged students to use the websites for reference and discussion. His
ideal teaching environment would incorporate technology and GeoGebra, he said:

I would bring them [the students] to the IT room and introduce them to the
GeoGebra websiteI would also use projectors and computers in the
classroom. I would show them how to use it and tell them about my website I
mainly want students to use the website for reference and hope they will go
home and visit it. Then they can make the connection between graphs and the
contents in textbooks.
When talking about the content and topics, he stated:

11

A programming language for writing professional papers

40

I use GeoGebra to teach more on geometrical topics and some algebraic


calculation and graphs. Actually both, it really depends as these two parts have
very close relationships As for our curriculum, it doesnt separate geometry
and algebra in a clear and detailed way. When teaching functions we link the
concepts to graphs because we have to follow the curriculum. In the textbooks,
they always link geometry and algebra together.
This could account for his view on GeoGebra linking geometry and algebra as
Taiwanese curriculum does not necessarily separate them.

Li provided a number of strategies for exploiting GeoGebra and put a significant


stress on examination exercises and problem-solving as well as proofs of theorems
(Appendix VIII). He occasionally took students to the IT room where they went
through revision for examinations. One of these lessons was observed. He preprepared a worksheet (Appendix IX) for students to investigate graphs of linear
function, quadratic functions, trigonometry, exponential functions, and logarithmic
function. He mediated GeoGebra for demonstration first, and then guided students to
interact with it and investigate properties of the function family.

One example that he created with GeoGebra where he used the slider to show the
changes of graphs of exponential functions is shown (Fig. 4.2). This example
indicates the changes in the graphs in relation to the base number a of y= a 2. His
scenario was initially a presentation followed by a pre-prepared sheet guiding students
to investigate by typing in different equations or moving sliders to observe the
changes in the graphs. It could be argued that he orchestrated interaction between the
students, mathematics and software; however, this didactic way of supporting
students revision provides less freedom for students to explore themselves.

The salient categories emerged from the data are listed as follows:
Tool use

Graphing,

calculations,

demonstration,

problem-solving,

revision, investigation, and interaction


Mathematics topics

Geometrical topics and algebraic calculations

Teaching style

Curriculum-based, textbook-oriented and exam-driven, selfdeveloped teaching materials and website with GeoGebra

Infrastructure

Home, IT room or computer and projector in classroom

41

(1) The graph of y= a 2 when a <1, (a is at the left side of the slider)

(2) The graph of y= a 2 when a =1 (the point on the slider was moved to the right)

(3) The graph of y= a 2 when a >1 (the point moved to the right)

Figure 4.2: One example of Lis exponential function constructs with GeoGebra

42

4.2.3 Richard

Background

Richard has taught secondary and A-level mathematics for twelve years in England.
He is skilled in computer programming and is in charge of the school mathematics
website where a combination of GeoGebra, Yacas 12 and JavaScript 13 are used for
developing online mathematics materials and tests. He designed a piece of DGS and
used it to teach before starting to use GeoGebra. Previously, he was working as a
software developer and cooperated with the NCETM GeoGebra project.

Views on technology and GeoGebra

Richard has an ambivalent view of GeoGebra. He expressed that he was not


convinced that GeoGebra links geometry and algebra but then stated that: it does the
connection between algebra and geometry much better than other programmes anywhere you can enter a number you can also enter a formula.

He asserted that GeoGebra had changed the way he taught as he had been taking
students to IT rooms more often and some students liked the revision with GeoGebra
as it sped up some processes of preparation for examinations and for accuracy. He
added that some students, however, preferred printed-out sheets with longer questions
as in examinations they had to use paper-and-pencil.

Since Richard had a personal interest in computer programming and he utilised a


combination of GeoGebra and JavaScript to create online materials, he stated: I think
because of the interface of JavaScript, you can display anything you want. You can do
anything you want to. You really CAN do anything! He stressed the fact that you
can animate any variable by turning it into a slider is a very powerful feature.

12
13

One open-source software which is viewed as a CAS


A programming language that controls a software application

43

Nevertheless, he also pointed out that GeoGebra is a tool that like any other tool can
be used badly or well.

GeoGebra evaluation

Richard summarised several features which he particularly appreciated about


GeoGebra and compared it to GSP:

The fact that it is free that students can use it at home, the fact that it is Java
that you can use in any platform and with JavaScript you can control and put it in
the webpage. For me, that is tremendously usefulIt is specialised, not many
people can write with JavaScript Geometers Sketchpad, I dont like how it
looks, I dont like its interface. So GeoGebra looks nice and the interface is easy
to use.
He picked out that GeoGebra was good for teaching gradients of a curve, both for
the concept and the proof. However, he pointed out one weakness of GeoGebra was
that the fractions could not be typed in.

Ways of Using of technology and GeoGebra

With respect to pedagogical practices, Richard discussed two ways in which he used
GeoGebra to teach. Firstly, he used it for demonstration in the classroom due to the
fact that it does the questions quickly. It is quite easy if I want to demonstrate on the
board. His way of using GeoGebra in the classroom followed an orderly sequence of
using paper-and-pencil first, and then demonstrating graphs using GeoGebra. He
taught topics with linkage to graphs such as transformations in a different order as he
explained: possibly because it takes a long time to draw the graphs.
Transformations, this is what I might get student to the IT room first in the future.
Richards second way of using GeoGebra was taking students to the IT room to work
on activities or revision. However, he attempted this less frequently than in
classrooms as he believed that students should learn in a paper-and-pencil
environment initially as: in the exam theyve got to use paper-and-pencil. I think if I
do everything on the computer. Theyre probably not gonna do well. Theyll get
bored. I do it with Year 11 for one lesson every fortnight. I think thats been about
44

right. He described the ways in which IT lessons were carried out: I take the class
into the IT room I tend to do two activities in a lesson. I set up a combination
system. The good students you get them to move on to different activities.

A few examples of online lessons are presented in the following figures. He set up
tests (Fig. 4.3) for pupils on his school website in which he used GeoGebra and Java.
The example shown in the figure 4.3 is used for testing students understanding of
transformations of equations and their graphs.

Figure 4.3: One example of school mathematics website on the topic: transformations

The example in the figure 4.4 is a designed activity on Richards school website for
students to drag the points interactively and discover that angles in the same segment
within a circle are the same.

45

Figure 4.4: One example of school mathematics website on the topic: angles in the
same segment

Richard demonstrated his idea of linking algebra and geometry with GeoGebra
(Fig.4.5). He plotted several points by using GeoGebra and the input sequence [(n,
4n-2), n, 1,100] followed by entering the equation y=4x-2 to show the link between
the algebraic and graphic representations.

Figure 4.5: One example of linking algebra and geometry with GeoGebra by Richard

46

The salient categories emerged from the data are listed as follows:
Tool use

Graphing, calculations, demonstration, revision, student


activities, investigation with the slider

Mathematics topics

Mainly geometrical topics, gradients of a curve and


transformations

Teaching style

Activity-based, a combination system of paper-and-pencil and


computer environments

Infrastructure

Home, IT room or computer and projector in classroom

4.2.4 Tyler

Background

Tyler has taught mathematics to 11-16 year olds in a college for twelve years. He has
spent three days a week teaching at the school and one day a week teaching secondary
trainee mathematics teachers for PGCE 14 in a university. He has also acted as an
AST15 supporting schools and as a part-time school consultant, cooperated with the
NCETM GeoGebra project and hosted a GeoGebra training workshop at his college.

Views on technology and GeoGebra


Tylers utterances reflected a view of GeoGebra as an environment for exploring
dynamic geometry rather than algebra. He viewed GeoGebra as a replacement to
Cabri, which he used before GeoGebra. However, he mentioned that his experience
with GeoGebra was approximately half a year, which meant that there were areas of
using GeoGebra that were under-explored and underdeveloped, such as using
GeoGebra in teaching algebra. He stated his expectation for GeoGebra development:
Its still very new. But its really exciting so far. Its going to be really, really
exciting to see how it develops and how we can develop using it.

14
15

Postgraduate Certificate in Education


Advanced Skills Teacher

47

Some criticisms about current usage of technology in schools were brought up in


terms of the IT rooms and school websites. He described his intention to change the
way his pupils work from being passive to actively involve in learning through
software. Getting pupils to work with mathematics in the IT room was difficult in his
experience. Moreover, he did not expect that students would not undertake much
thinking in the IT room. In addition, some school mathematics websites have
mathematics tests for pupils to log on to at home with their personal passwords which,
in his view, allowed no room for discussion and interaction. He pointed out that
GeoGebra is interactive and intuitive so he could set up diagrams and activities for
students to interact with easily: This is different. This is maths by interacting; this
is maths by trying things out, by conjecturing, by having a go.

He emphasised that GeoGebra could not only be used as a presentation tool by


teachers but also as an investigation tool for pupils.

GeoGebra evaluation

Tyler spoke positively about the features of GeoGebra in terms of changeability of


the font size, projection capability and the slider in which he considered GeoGebra
outperformed other DGS packages such as Cabri and GSP. He used Autograph in the
way he preferred to have pupils conjecture on topics related to trigonometry such as
sine waves. However, he specified that the bidirectional capability of GeoGebra in
linking algebra and graphs which can also be used by pupils to investigate at home
was superior to other software.

Ways of Using of technology and GeoGebra


An enthusiasm for GeoGebra was apparent in Tylers strategies of using GeoGebra in
mathematics teaching. He systematically summarised three different ways in which he
considered GeoGebra could be used for teaching:

Demonstration
He thought potentially teachers could potentially use GeoGebra as a presentation tool
where there is only interaction between teachers and GeoGebra: One way is where I
48

demonstrate, so with me at the board, using it as a teaching tool using it to


demonstrate to the class.

Interaction
The second way was setting up some particular parts of mathematics for pupils to
work on and find out as a whole class activity in advance. At this stage pupils interact
with GeoGebra within the whole class. I set up particular GeoGebra files for them to
look at, to explore, to make changes to, and then for them to make hypotheses of
what might be happening.
He offered one example of pre-prepared files on the topic of transformation (Fig.4.6,
Appendix X) as a whole class teaching activity. He demonstrated how he would use
this activity while teaching enlargement:

We can spend a proper amount of time talking about what happens if I move this
to the left. And only at the very end of that discussion, do we then actually do
it then wonderfully pupils want to know: can you make it a decimal? Thats
how they call it, what happens if I make this point to the centre? Can you make it
negative? What happens if thats a zero? There are very nice things you can do
with this.
From this example, his ways of questioning to provoke students thinking along with
the designed activity revealed that the whole class activity worked under teacher
demonstration and interaction.

(1)

Enlargement with a=2.4 (a>1), the transformed triangle on the left became
bigger

49

(2) Enlargement with a=0.3 (a<1), the transformed triangle on the right became
smaller

(3) Enlargement with a=- 0.7 (a<0), the transformed triangle on the right became
smaller and inverted

Figure 4.6: One example of Tylers use of transformation activity on enlargement

Investigation
The third way of using GeoGebra was conceived to be an ideal state where pupils
investigate their mathematical ideas with GeoGebra by making conjectures and
testing them out. He exemplified his experience of using GeoGebra this way:

50

Its in the IT room that children use GeoGebra for themselves. There they work
in pairs, they discuss what they are doing, and they are encouraged to have ideas
and test those ideas out they started to create things. Some of them started
with a blank sheet and they wanted to us, maybe, the reflection and they
wanted to do reflections to make their own pictures and interact.
Overall, Tyler was reflective and explorative about different practices with GeoGebra,
and eager to find out possible areas where GeoGebra could be useful in mathematics
teaching. He also drew a distinction between knowing how to use it and getting
used to using it in relation with GeoGebra. This inferred that he acknowledged the
differences between using GeoGebra and teaching with the use of GeoGebra.

The salient categories emerged from the data are listed as follows:
Tool use

Demonstration, interaction, investigation, exploration, testing


hypothesis, creation, projection capability and the slider

Mathematics topics

Mainly geometrical topics

Teaching style

A whole-class teaching activity

Infrastructure

Home, IT room or computer and projector in classroom

4.3 Informative interviews

4.3.1 Interview with the GeoGebra creator


Markus created GeoGebra during his Masters study in Computer Science and
Mathematics Education and finished the first prototype in March 2002. He received
the European Academic Software Award 2002 while he was teaching in a high school
in Austria. His PhD was funded for GeoGebra development and he now works as a
visiting professor in Florida. When talking about how GeoGebra could be used by
teachers, he said:

I think there is a huge variety in how teachers use it. This depends a lot on the
teachers background. Both their background in mathematics, mathematics
content knowledge and of course also how much they have been doing in
technology before.

51

Based on his experiences training mathematics teachers to use GeoGebra, he


concluded there are four different stages that teachers possibly go through from
learning to use GeoGebra to teaching mathematics with GeoGebra:
Stage 1: teachers have to get comfortable with the software alone at home, using
the software to create nice pictures for tests;
Stage 2: teachers use GeoGebra as a presentation tool;
Stage 3: teachers do construction on the fly. They use GeoGebra to visualise
what has been discussedAnd then the way to get students interact a little bit
more would be to let them present. So students do some kind of exercise and
GeoGebra can be used as a checking tool. Then students walk out to the
teachers computer. They type in what they think is the answer and show it to the
class and we compare different answers. GeoGebra can just be used to present by
students as well;
Stage 4: teachers can ask much more open questions. Students can play with
GeoGebra to come up with conjectures. So not just checking the conjecture but
also developing the conjectures. That is what I really want to see.
During the discussion about whether teachers would use GeoGebra to teach geometry
or algebra, he clarified: Basically, lower grades can use it for geometrical
constructions and higher grades for families of functions with the sliders and basic
calculus like derivatives.

When talking about what had been missing in the status quo, he mentioned that there
was not enough training and support for teachers new to technology as well as limited
research on the impact of GeoGebra for teaching and learning of mathematics.

4.3.2 Interview with an advanced user


Peter has been teaching mathematics in a university and masters course for higher
ability students (Year 10-12) for eight years in England. He taught with GeoGebra at
university and upper-secondary levels. He emphasised that: the simplicity and ease of
use and the ability to go between algebra and graphics and again contribute to
factor, make GeoGebra an effective tool.

Peter used GeoGebra mostly for showing diagrams and suggested that:

52

You can pre-prepare things and then they look great, but I think it is useful to go
through the construction, I think it is crucial to go through the construction stepby-step in front of them so that they can understand.
Since he warmed to GeoGebra he found it useful and effective for illustrating
graphical part as he could show proper graphs briefly and quickly when students have
questions. I would say GeoGebra has changed the way I teach. I am incredibly into
this. GeoGebra certainly makes things, some things, easier and that has benefits

4.4 Cross-Case Analysis

4.4.1 Emerging Categories

Some extracted findings from each case were collected in the within-case analysis. By
following the constant comparative method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), several
categories emerged from the data when comparing incidents applicable to each
category. The classification involved subdividing the data as well as assigning the
data into as many categories as possible that fitted an existing category. For example,
the category of teachers conceptions and uses of GeoGebra as an educational tool
emerged quickly from comparisons of the teachers responses to the ways in which
they viewed and used GeoGebra as a tool for a variety of purposes.

Categories appeared when comparing the interview data across the cases. In relation
to environments within which teachers use GeoGebra, infrastructural change of IT
facilities and settings seemed to be one of the major concerns. With regard to
teachers behavioural change, two aspects, teachers mathematical and IT
background and the transition that they experienced through using GeoGebra, were
scrutinised. The third category is the way they viewed GeoGebra as an educational
tool. The fourth main category- mathematical topics had been targeted for different
levels of mathematics. Out of those categories, some sub-categories emerged, which
will be discussed in the following analysis.
After splitting categories into sub-categories, I followed Deys (1993: 139) strategy
for splicing categories: when we splice categories, we join them by interweaving the

53

different strands in our analysis. This is for the purpose of integrating categories and
their properties. Following the sequence of splitting, splicing categories and linking
the data, a framework for analysing cross-cases was then identified. In the final stage,
there are four main categories (Appendix XI) in relation to the use of GeoGebra
integrated:

(a) the ways in which teachers view and use GeoGebra as an educational tool
(b) the transition that teachers experience when they go through different stages
from learning GeoGebra to teaching with the use of GeoGebra
(c) the mathematical topics that teachers choose for teaching aided by GeoGebra
(d) the infrastructural change of technology environment under which teachers
work in relation to their practices of GeoGebra

These four dimensions are used to examine the differences and similarities among
these four cases in the following.

4.4.2 Educational Tool


The case studies show that, besides differences in teachers views on and methods of
using GeoGebra, they all referred to GeoGebra as an educational tool. Two
possibilities of GeoGebra as an educational tool are that teachers might view it as a
tool or use it as a tool in their classroom practices. As a consequence, this dimension
overlaps two themes- views on and uses of GeoGebra. Applying comparative analysis
cross the cases and themes, GeoGebra can be identified as an educational tool for:

research and analysis;

immediate feedback and reflective checking;

creating teaching materials and online materials;

demonstration, presentation and visualisation;

problem-solving, computation and calculation;

classroom activities, tasks- investigation, experimentation and conjecture;

geometrical proof of theorems;

revision for examinations;

54

Jay viewed GeoGebra as a tool for research, checking, calculation, teaching and
demonstration and used it mainly for presentation in the classroom. He mentioned that
GeoGebra was a resurrection tool that activated and visualised some mathematical
concepts in textbooks. He also stressed his position of viewing GeoGebra merely as a
tool which was useful and convenient. After one year of using GeoGebra, he had not
changed the way he viewed it as an additional tool for speeding up teaching processes.
He did not give students guidance to learn or to engage with GeoGebra. Jays limited
ways of using GeoGebra could be the result of his conceptions that its effectiveness
was low and that not many teachers would use it or students find it a useful tool.

Li considered GeoGebra as a tool for a broader range of affordances, such as making


teaching materials, editing online tutoring worksheets for problem-solving,
conjectures, geometrical proof of theorems, students reference after school and
revision for examinations. This is likely to reflect his high level of enthusiasm and
confidence in GeoGebra. Moreover, his extensive production of GeoGebra
applications could be inferred from his profound mathematics content knowledge.
However, a lack of pedagogy in teaching with GeoGebra seemed apparent. During
observation of a lesson in the IT room, he used GeoGebra as a revision tool. Students
followed his pre-prepared worksheet step-by-step to observe how graphs change when
different functions were typed in. It seemed that students simply acted according to
the required task and did not engage in actively thinking about the task. Therefore,
this is understandable that students might unlikely to be inspired or motivated by
learning through GeoGebra. This view of missing appropriate pedagogy was also
indicated in his aspiration to raise students motivation to learn by using GeoGebrahe uttered: I hope to use GeoGebra to move students hearts and grasp them back.
Although Lis self belief that his design work with GeoGebra might persuade students
to engage more fully with mathematics, the unappreciative reaction of his students to
his efforts indicate otherwise. This has prompted him to improve the situation.

Richard regarded GeoGebra as a tool for a variety of practices, even for different
subject areas such as physics. He asserted that you really can do anything with
GeoGebra, such as designing tests or tasks on school websites. Nevertheless, his main
use for it was as a presentation device in the classroom and a tool for revision for
examinations in the IT room. His enjoyment of mathematics was derived from
55

combining different software packages for producing online tests for students to
practice at home. One limitation of his use of GeoGebra stemmed from the fact that
most of the material he designed only required yes or no answer. Additional
explanation or help was not offered if students answered questions incorrectly. His
intention was to help students learn through these online tests, IT room activities,
classroom tasks and demonstration. Arguably, these activities might assist students
with procedural understandings rather than conceptual ones.

Tyler did not appear to consider GeoGebra as a tool but rather as an environment for
exploring mathematics. However, he stated that he would use GeoGebra as a
presentation tool in the classrooms but preferred students to use it as a tool for
working on tasks, investigation and testing conjectures. He was aware students simply
observing teachers present work with the software hinders their interactive
participation and is different from doing the work themselves. Therefore, he claimed
that GeoGebra is most useful when students actually experiment and investigate with
it. He viewed GeoGebra as an educational tool, not only for teachers but also for
students.
Comparing the four teachers behaviours with GeoGebra, Richard and Li approached
GeoGebra in a similar fashion although they are from different countries. They both
had a combination system of working with GeoGebra, creating their own teaching
materials and websites as well as providing revision section for students examination
preparation. However, Jay and Tyler both approached GeoGebra differently. Jay was
more demonstration-oriented which indicated that his teaching practice was consistent
with his conceptions of GeoGebra being software for visualising mathematics. Tylers
practice was student interaction-based which might be in relation to his conceptions of
GeoGebra being interactive.

4.4.3 Teacher Transition


Teachers might experience changes in their manipulation of GeoGebra providing
more time and exploration. According to the interview with Markus, he thought that

56

teachers seem to go through phases and changes from starting to learn GeoGebra to
teaching utilising GeoGebra. These four stages are:
(a) Preparation- teachers begin with basic constructs, such as making triangles,
circles and graphs of equations. They create diagrams for preparation of
arranged lessons and generate printed worksheets or test sheets.
(b) Presentation- teachers start using GeoGebra in the classroom for demonstration,
either displaying pre-prepared files or constructing graphs step-by-step in front
of students.
(c) Interaction- teachers design whole class activities and encourage interactions
between students and GeoGebra.
(d) Investigation- teachers ask open questions and students work in pairs to
investigate their mathematical ideas, conjectures with GeoGebra.

Given this framework for examining teacher transition, I determined that Jay was the
only one who stayed at the presentation stage; Li and Richard seemed to move on to
the interaction stage whilst Tyler had proceeded to the investigation stage as a result
of his personal expertise as an AST. However, I could argue that these teachers are
not teachers who are new to using technology: some might have experiences using
other software in the past, particularly similar DGS packages. Therefore, they did not
necessarily need to go through the first stage. For instance, Jay had experience using
GSP during the past twenty years and he started GeoGebra straight into the second
stage without changing for years. His perception of the uses of GeoGebra was limited
and possibly so were his intentions of exploring different uses of mathematical
software. Consequently, there are probably teachers who stay at one stage, never
moving forward.

The data suggested that teachers can be categorised into three types: unskilled
teachers who have never used technology in teaching, technology-skilled teachers and
GeoGebra advanced skills teachers. Some teachers who are not used to technology
can download GeoGebra online materials or worksheets for their classroom practices.
They could be at the pre-stage phase where they might simply want to use it for
demonstrations and are unwilling to learn more advanced mechanisms of the software.
Teachers who are skilful using technology are possibly the ones who progress from

57

stage to stage. Advanced skills teachers use GeoGebra across all stages as a network.
They change their plans adapting to different topics or student abilities and employ
GeoGebra for preparation of lessons to encourage interaction with students,
preparation for presentation on particular topics or preparation of activities for student
investigation. Given more time and experiences of teaching with GeoGebra, a
combination of all stages is exploited.

4.4.4 Mathematical Scope


The mathematical topics that GeoGebra supports in terms of my research focus can be
categorised as algebraic topics, geometric topics or both algebraic and geometric
related topics. The differences and commonalities of the four teachers choices of
mathematical topics using GeoGebra are discussed.

Jay taught with GeoGebra mainly on topics related to coordinate systems, which is a
possible subcategory of both algebra and geometry. Li listed all topics16 related to a
wide range of mathematics areas apart from 3D topics which can also be set to both
algebra and geometry. Both Taiwanese teachers viewed algebra and geometry as two
sides of a coin that should not be separate. Li pointed out that there were no particular
separation in the curriculum, therefore, they both sometimes taught algebra and
geometry at the same time which seems to be the reason why they used GeoGebra to
teach both algebraic and geometric related topics.

In contrast, Tyler and Richard used GeoGebra mainly for geometric topics possibly in
consequence of their perception that GeoGebra is a DGS. They expressed that they
would not want to use GeoGebra for all topics as there are certain topics that are not
appropriate for incorporating technology. Therefore, they preferred to find out what
topics GeoGebra is appropriate for then use it for those specific topics. For example,
Tyler had shorter period of time exploiting GeoGebra and was interested in exploring
16

Cartesian coordinate systems, linear equations, graphs of polynomial functions, quadratic functions
followed by higher order functions, exponential functions, logarithmic functions and trigonometry,
circles and balls- the equations of circles and conic sections- parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas.
Furthermore, there are topics related to pre-calculus such as differentiation and integration involving
rectangles, upper sum and lower sum and tangent and inequality and symmetric graphs.

58

GeoGebra for topics related to algebra. According to the interviews, both Richard and
Tyler chose to use different software for algebraic topics as they did not seem to be
convinced by the algebraic capability of GeoGebra. The difference between
Taiwanese and English teachers choices of topics might be due to discrepancies in
the structure of mathematics curricula and their perceptions of GeoGebra.

According to the teacher evaluation of GeoGebra and other software, most of them
regarded GeoGebra as a replacement to GSP and Cabri. However, GeoGebra could
not work with particular topics such as 3D topics for Taiwanese teachers. Jay chose to
use Archimedes 3D 17 whilst Li chose SketchUp for the 3D related topics. Richard
designed online materials with Yacas and JavaScript for algebraic topics whilst Tyler
used Autograph for teaching topics related to functions. When the weaknesses of
GeoGebra capability were discovered all teachers were proficient in embracing other
software packages for their chosen topics.

4.4.5 Infrastructural Change


The infrastructure of the educational environment is closely related to the ways
GeoGebra can be used. Since GeoGebra is open-source software, one advantage
offered by it is that both teachers and students have options to use it at school and at
home. Teachers can use GeoGebra at home for either research or preparation for
mathematics teaching materials whilst students can do coursework with it at home.
According to the interviews, some of the teachers encouraged students to go on
GeoGebra-related websites to practice mathematics exercises at home. Most teachers
used GeoGebra to demonstrate mathematical objects or visualise mathematics in their
classrooms using a laptop or a computer connected to a projector. Some of them
brought students to the IT room and a few prepared laptops in the classroom for
students to investigate. There are therefore three different environments that teachers
used GeoGebra at home for research or preparation, in classrooms for
demonstration or student interaction and in IT rooms for activities, revision or student
investigation.
17

One three dimensional DGS which is commercial

59

Jay and Li conceived of the infrastructure of GeoGebra usage for conventional


presentation of mathematical work in classrooms. Before teaching, both of them used
GeoGebra at home, however, Jay would use it for research and making teaching
portfolios whereas Li used it for making GeoGebra worksheets, online tutorial
materials and examination sheets as well as teaching preparation. During teaching,
Jay used GeoGebra solely for demonstration in classrooms where he brought a laptop
and showed graph works to the class whenever needed. Li would not use GeoGebra
in classrooms but in IT rooms for demonstration and revision.

Richard and Tyler worked with GeoGebra in different ways. Richard used it at home
for designing mathematical tasks and tests on the school website, whereas Tyler set up
activities for presentation at home and student investigation in IT rooms. Richard
mainly used it for demonstration in classrooms and revision in IT rooms. Tyler used it
for activities in classrooms and tasks for students to investigate in IT rooms where
they work in pairs, making conjectures and testing their mathematical ideas out.
Comparing these four cases, the English teachers taught both in classrooms and IT
rooms whilst the Taiwanese teachers chose one environment instead of switching
between classrooms and IT rooms.

Most teachers expressed that there was a certain degree of difficulty in approaching
appropriate IT facilities as the time spent on setting up laptops and projectors or
getting students in IT rooms and logging on to the computers could take up to 20
minutes in one lesson. In addition, there were distractions when computers were
available as students occasionally attempted to check emails, surf the web, or listen to
music. These factors could contribute to their frustrations towards implementing
GeoGebra.

Compared with English teachers, Taiwanese teachers held more negative attitudes
with respect to infrastructure of technology and therefore it influenced their ways of
using GeoGebra. This is not only because it is more time-consuming but also due to
students passive response to technology. For example, Jay stated that, I dont dare to
say that it enhances students motivation in learning. In fact, I dont even put the idea
in my head. Because learning in the field of mathematics, is considered a hard subject,
60

students need very strong motivation if they are willing to learn or they are interested
in logical thinking.

4.5 Cross-Cultural Exploration


There are several areas with respect to the use of GeoGebra in Taiwan which are
different from England. However, ascertaining the commonalities and differences of
the use of GeoGebra between Taiwan and England is not particularly easy as cultural
influence is a complex issue. In addition, the presentation of four cases cannot offer a
broad understanding or generalisation of what is happening in both countries. What
this study offers is an exploration into teachers commonalities and discrepancies in
using GeoGebra in England as compared to their Taiwanese counterparts according to
their personal characteristics, conceptions and practices.
By adopting Kaiser et al. (2005)s framework for analysing mathematics education in
Eastern and Western traditions, teachers conceptions of mathematics and their
practices in relation with GeoGebra and cultural influences are chosen for crosscultural comparison. In an attempt to identify what is universal and what is context
bound (Osborn et al., 2000), this study would help understand the role played by
cultural context and the ways in which teachers use GeoGebra with different forms of
pedagogy as Taiwan and England have contrasting values.
Responding to what is context bound, there are three aspects generated from the data
that could be seen as significantly different between the cultures in England and
Taiwan. Firstly, teachers attitudes towards technology in both countries varied. The
participating Taiwanese teachers held negative conceptions of technology use for
teaching practices, whereas the English teachers were positive about it not only
because they were confident and comfortable about using technology but also because
students seemed to have a higher level of acceptance. Secondly, the Taiwanese
teachers experienced greater difficulties pertaining to infrastructure as the classroom
settings were not particularly designed for technology use in Taiwan whilst the
English classroom settings implemented interactive whiteboards and projectors which
offered convenience for teachers.

61

Finally, in terms of pedagogy, the Taiwanese teachers tended to follow a curriculum


based teaching strategy and mostly related GeoGebra exercises to textbooks; therefore,
GeoGebra was used specifically for assistance of visualisation of textbooks examples.
Again, the English teachers appeared to be more creative and flexible in choosing
their teaching methods. As the Taiwanese educational system has an examinationdriven culture, there are several areas being used extensively such as problem solving
for university entrance examinations and proof of theorems as well as revision for
examination preparation. In contrast with Taiwan, the English educational system has
a focus on individual learning, therefore, there seemed to be an emphasis on students
individual investigation and interaction with GeoGebra. Identifying what is
universal cross cases, one noticeable commonality is that all teachers conceived
GeoGebra as a useful tool for mathematics teaching practices.

4.6 Summary
Teachers practical elaboration of GeoGebra can be seen as interrelated within the
four dimensions. The infrastructure of technology has a great impact on the ways in
which teachers regard GeoGebra as an educational tool since if technology facilities
are not available or advanced, it would definitely influence the way teachers use the
software. Given technology provision, teachers mathematical content knowledge and
conceptions may affect their mathematical scope utilising GeoGebra. Certainly,
provided there is sufficient support for the use of GeoGebra, teachers might start
experiencing changes in their behaviour with GeoGebra. This teacher transition will
move them from beginners to advanced users of GeoGebra as well as help them
develop their pedagogical practices in teaching practices.

In spite of these common dimensions between Taiwan and England, there are
substantial discrepancies in technological artefacts and adaptation of curricular
resources which underpin English and Taiwanese teachers decisions and practices
with GeoGebra applications. These significant differences could be explained by the
two opposing Eastern and Western cultural traditions.

62

CHAPTER 5

Discussion and Concluding Remarks

5.1 Introduction

In this chapter, I summarise the findings and elaborate on their contribution to current
thinking. I discuss firstly the findings in relation to the research questions and
literature. Secondly, I offer my reflections on my role as a researcher and thirdly, I
consider the implications of the study in connection with the reviewed literature.
Finally, I suggest areas for further research and introduce my proposed future study.

5.2 Findings
I begin this study with, in essence, three research questions. Firstly, I investigated
teachers conceptions regarding technology and GeoGebra in Taiwan and England.
Secondly, I set out to see the manners in which GeoGebra is used for the teaching of
algebra and geometry. Thirdly, I intended to understand whether or not their
conceptions are related to their practices with GeoGebra in both countries.

The purpose of this study is neither to draw generalisations nor to criticise or rank the
teachers but rather to explore the relationship between their conceptions and practices
regarding GeoGebra in order to make suggestions for improvement. Analysing the
data thematically across the case studies revealed four salient dimensions in relation
to GeoGebra-assisted teaching: educational tools, teacher transition, mathematical
scope and infrastructural change.

The findings are introduced in the following, which indicate that understanding the
linkage between teachers conceptions and practices is crucial. Firstly, the teachers

63

conceptions of GeoGebra seemed to be strongly rooted in their conceptions of the


effectiveness and infrastructure of technology. The English teachers imbued a more
positive attitude towards technology than their Taiwanese counterparts. However,
teachers in both countries expressed favourable opinions regarding GeoGebras
agreeable contribution to their teaching.

Secondly, GeoGebra was commonly used as a tool for visualisation, demonstration


and interaction of mathematical topics, whereas for algebraic topics it was rarely
utilised in England. It appeared that the English teachers associated GeoGebra
primarily with geometric topics. Conversely, Taiwanese teachers worked with
GeoGebra on both geometric and algebraic topics as they did not consider algebra and
geometry to be necessarily separate; possibly as a result of the structure of Taiwanese
curriculum and textbook-oriented culture.

Thirdly, there were three different environments where teachers engaged with
GeoGebra: - preparation of teaching materials at home, presentation and interaction in
classrooms and activities for pupil investigation in IT rooms. Teacher transitions
evolved from and were influenced by the infrastructure as they moved from
preparation to presentation, incorporating interaction with pupils and finally
encouraging investigation.

In effect, GeoGebra can be implemented in upper-secondary mathematics teaching as


a network of preparation, presentation, interaction and investigation whereby teachers
mediate their practices with flexibility. Based on the findings above, I present the
general schema of this thesis (Fig. 5.1). Arguably, there is a conceptual change in
accordance with infrastructural change when technology is introduced in
mathematics teaching. Teachers are the first to encounter this re-conceptualisation of
pedagogical practices. They not only experience changes in their conceptions but also
modification of their practices when they experience the transition. This transition
would possibly alter teachers choices of the mathematical scope and their uses of
GeoGebra as an educational tool in light of their new pedagogical practices.

64

Infrastructural change
Re-conceptualisation
Teacher transition
Conceptions

Implementation
of GeoGebra
+

Mathematical scope

New pedagogical
practices

Practices
Educational tool

Figure 5.1: The general schema of teachers conceptions and practices integrating
GeoGebra

5.3 Discussion
A number of studies have highlighted significant policy-rooted pressure on and
academic support for English teachers integration of technology into classroom
practice (e.g. Sutherland et al., 2004; Hennessy et al., 2005; Hayes 2007). It is
possible that this may explain why Richard and Tyler appeared positive about
technology. They seemed confident and skilful exploiting GeoGebra and this might
due to their enthusiasm for it. In Taiwan, on the other hand, educational policies
expect little by technology use with the consequence that, perhaps, study teachers
often felt unsupported in terms of infrastructure and pedagogical support. Inevitably,
organisational and pedagogical challenges of technology integration are clearly major
issues in both countries. Ruthvens (2008b) exposition regarding the limited success
of the existing policies and provisions of technology is supported by my findings. His
proposed three dimensions of the incorporation of new technologies into mathematics
educational practices in terms of interpretative flexibility18, instrumental evolution19

18

Varied conceptions of technologys functionalities and modalities of use, discussed in Chapter 2.3.
19 The instrumental evolution of scenarios is categories as four types: a convenient parallel to paperand-pencil, invariant properties through visual salience under dragging, new types of solution to
familiar problems and posing novel forms of problem.

65

and institutional adoption 20 are recognised in this study. In respect of interpretive


flexibility and instrumental evolution, I spotted the evolution of teachers material
design and their propagation as a finished product and appropriation as a practical tool
from teacher transition. Evidently, Taiwanese mathematics curriculum needs further
institutional adoption of new technologies.
However, I argue that the practical theory21 proposed by Deaney et al. (2006) is too
idealistic in its claims as I perceived limited evidence in this study that support the
contribution of technology in terms of improving pupil motivation towards lessons.
Prominently, the Taiwanese teachers were against the idea that technology could
improve students motivation and this may be due to the cultural differences in their
conceptions of technology in mathematics teaching.

According to the interviews, teachers in both countries valued the bidirectional


capability of GeoGebra as a key feature. Bidirectional interaction not only includes
the drag mode but also the inverse way of changeability in the algebraic window,
which is an improvement over DGS. DGS has been used for supporting the
development of geometrical concepts and Euclidean geometry in particular. This is
characterised by the drag mode- a dynamic modelling of the traditional paper-andpencil environment which allows interaction and becomes a progressively more
central salient feature in the design of DGS (Kokol-voljc, 2003; Olivero and Robutti,
2007; Ruthven et al., 2008). It is evident that GeoGebra was valued as an advanced
DGS.

In contrast, the development of CAS capabilities in GeoGebra has limited


achievement which is not only acknowledged by Hohenwarter but is also supported
by this study. The data analysis indicates that some teachers did not appear to be
aware of or intend to include CAS in their teaching practices. Owing to different
contents and levels of curricula, CAS can be seen as being more widely utilised at the
university level (Lavicza, 2007). Therefore, I argue that the implementation of CAS

20

The institutional adoption means that the official curriculum should show explicit recognition and
provide the instrumental genesis of manual tools.
21
Disscussed in Chapter 2.2.1, page 7.

66

has been premature at the upper-secondary level as well as the integration of


GeoGebra in algebraic topics.

Consistent with the findings of Thompson (1984), this study ascertained that teacher
conceptions appear to play a significant role in affecting instructional decisions and
behaviour, although conceptions and practices are related in a complex way. For
instance, the Taiwanese teachers conceptions were related to their practices in a
contradictory manner as they were negative about general technology integration but
enthusiastic about using GeoGebra in mathematics teaching, while the English
teachers conceptions and practices were linked in a straightforward manner.

Uniting the use of technology in mathematics teaching, many factors appear to


interact with teachers conceptions, decisions and behaviour. These could be, for
example, their choices of mathematical software and pedagogical issues linking
mathematical content knowledge and technology implementation. In accordance with
the study of Almas and Krumsvik (2008), for teachers who do not feel comfortable
with changes in classrooms, their teaching practices stay the same. This reflects one
of the reasons why the Taiwanese teacher Jay did not change his practice in years.
Furthermore, Almas and Krumsvik (2008) suggested that teachers are more likely to
develop a digital pedagogical content knowledge in technology-rich classrooms. This
can be evident by the English teachers willingness for pursuing pedagogical
development as they worked under better technology-assisted environments.

5.4 Reflections and Limitations


My experience of being a mathematics teacher helped me understand the cultural
context, educational system and curriculum structure in Taiwan. I felt confident and
comfortable speaking in my first language to the Taiwanese teachers who had similar
interests in the field of mathematics and technology. Fortunately, I have been
involved in the GeoGebra NCETM and IGI projects, workshops, seminars and
conferences, gaining insight into the workings of GeoGebra in England. Although I
interviewed the teachers with English as a second language, I would argue that I had
accumulated a degree of knowledge about mathematical practices during my previous

67

postgraduate study in mathematics education in England, and therefore, was not


wholly an outsider. However, the roles I had experienced in Taiwan and England
were different and could have been differentiated from the role of a researcher. These
involvements might have biased the way I conducted the study, therefore, I have
striven to maintain the validity and reliability by data triangulation.
The studys limitations stemmed from the exploratory nature of my research- there are
difficulties in determining teachers practices using GeoGebra through interviews.
Interviews with teachers might not reveal a great detail about the existing relationship
between teaching and GeoGebra. Due to limitation of resources and time, the study
could not be as in-depth as hoped for. More time spent in conversation with
informants and increased observation of teaching would have been advantageous as it
would have allowed me to identify discrepancies between their conceptions and
practices more clearly. Language barriers and preconceptions of foreign researchers,
and social expectations could have influenced in probing and prompting during the
interviews. In addition, the Taiwanese teachers were given longer notice, thus, more
time for preparation might have affected the quality of the data. Consequently, the
data collected in England was less detailed compared to that collated in Taiwan.

Moreover, there is a limitation to my study as GeoGebra has only recently been


published. Most teachers in both Taiwan and England were at the stage of learning
and exploring rather than having fully implemented GeoGebra into their classroom
practices. Any research has the potential for follow-up studies, where it would be
constructive to look in depth at teachers teaching practices in relation to students
mathematics learning processes using GeoGebra.

5.6 Implications and Recommendations for Further Research


The research findings helped me gain a better understanding of teachers pioneering
use and extract the potentialities of GeoGebra elaboration in practice. I recommend
three areas that need further research- teacher pedagogical development with
GeoGebra, evaluation into GeoGebra integration in teaching practices and cultural
implications.

68

Becoming advanced users of GeoGebra or role models of students use of GeoGebra


has become the next challenge of teachers practices. According to the findings,
teachers encountered difficulties in delivering mathematical knowledge through
GeoGebra. Thus, pedagogical issues of GeoGebra in teaching practices have become
apparent. Teaching practices of presentational skills such as step-by-step
constructions and ready-made demonstrations are also in need of examination. In
addition, there is also a demand for the development of pedagogical support in terms
of linking affordances of CAS and DGS.

The pedagogy of GeoGebra should not be limited for presentation, as using it beyond
demonstration contributes to exploring challenges and potentialities of GeoGebra
implementation. To mediate GeoGebra in an interactive environment, it is important
for students to follow the mathematics step-by-step processes slowly; learning to
engage and then achieve results, working alongside GeoGebra. Consequently, a
further recommended study investigating students coursework in making conjectures
and testing whilst proving their finding, would also be favourable.

Another area of investigation is whether the educational infrastructure, school


academic objectives and individual student mathematics level of attainment and
achievement influence how teachers deliver their mathematics lessons using
GeoGebra.

Does

teachers

personal

preference

of

using

GeoGebra

for

experimentation along with their mathematics content knowledge influence their


teaching behaviours? What factors contribute to teachers creativity in presenting and
interacting mathematical ideas with GeoGebra? Do the educational implications of
GeoGebra being open-source software with the nature of internationally-shared
materials significantly contribute to factors?

Several features and functional tools of GeoGebra, such as hiding and then revealing
strategies, as well as the bidirectional interaction of the drag mode are incorporated as
a way of evaluating teachers effectiveness using the programme. Using a certain
criteria, teachers abilities to utilise GeoGebras capabilities can be monitored.
Hohenwarter and Preinder (2007) have developed a handbook containing professional
knowledge in using GeoGebra. The next stage is to ensure these guidelines are
69

followed by teachers resulting in sufficient implementation of GeoGebra into


classroom practices. With more direction regarding successful teacher practices with
GeoGebra, curriculum-focused mathematical topics could then be incorporated.

The Taiwanese educational system has an examination-driven culture which impacts


on teachers mediation of GeoGebra. Despite the highest student mathematics
performances internationally, are Taiwanese teachers applying their excellent
mathematics content knowledge to using GeoGebra to teach? The effectiveness of
Taiwanese teachers extensive applications of revision, problem-solving and
geometrical proofs to enhance learning needs examination.

Moreover, learning from different cultural contexts is useful for pedagogical


improvement. It would be significant to compare the different ways Taiwanese and
English teachers benefit from GeoGebra and learn from each other. For example, the
study has indicated that the English teachers were likely to be more flexible and
creative with their engagement exploiting GeoGebra and the Taiwanese teachers were
skilful in implementing GeoGebra into examination and textbook to improve
students mathematical achievement. More research on cultural exchange of
GeoGebra implementation could benefit pedagogical development.

Suggestions for my proposed PhD research

Within the recommended areas for further research, I would like to extend my future
work on the cross-cultural investigation of pedagogical application of GeoGebra in
relation to teaching practices. To research further, I propose to study how GeoGebra
support upper-secondary teachers teaching practices and explore the underlying
mathematics in depth and how these representations enhance students learning.
Answering these questions and achieving the stated objectives will contribute to the
growing development of GeoGebra usage in designing geometrical and algebraic
pedagogy that promotes mathematics learning.

70

5.6 Concluding thoughts


The journey exploring teachers conceptions in relation to their use of GeoGebra has
been stimulating. I have come to acknowledge that GeoGebra could be used more
than as merely a tool, in line with Markuss expectation, Peters suggestion and
Tylers utterance- it can be an environment where teachers and students collaborate
for the creation of complete pieces of mathematical work. Implementing GeoGebra in
classroom practices effectively will result in a plethora of mathematical ideas,
thoughts, conjectures and investigation between teachers and students.

Despite the potentiality of GeoGebra, teachers have not fully discovered its capability
to link geometry and algebra but acknowledged that it offers pervading possibility in
teaching practices. As Markus Hohenwarter puts it, GeoGebra is free software
because I believe education should be free. This philosophy makes it easy to convince
teachers to give this tool a try, even if they havent used technology in their
classrooms before.

With the widespread idea of using open-source software, there is evidence showing
that GeoGebra is widely used across the world. However, research into its mainstream
use is still limited. I would like to conclude by highlighting the importance of
instrumental dimensions and the underlying mathematics within the use of GeoGebra
and the crucial role of interface features, the underlying mathematics and the
pedagogical possibilities of open-source software integration into teaching practices.

71

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APPENDICES:
Appendix I:
Interview Transcripts
Jay
Interviewer (I): ?
Jay (J):
I: ?
J:
I:
J:
I: ?
J: SA IBM
Windows 95
I: GeoGebra ?
J:


OK
I: WIKI ?
J: WIKI
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I:
J:
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I: ?
J:
I: ?
J:

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J:

...

I: ?
J:
...
!

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I: ICT package

?
J: web conference


I: ...?
J:

...
I:
?
J:

I:
J:





I: ?
J:





I:
J:
I: ?
J:
3D

3D

I: 3D ?
J: Cabri 3D
I: Cabri-Geometre?
J:
I: Calques 3D
Archimedes 3D

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J: ?
I: google
J: GeoGebra (?)

feedback

I: ?
J:

J: :
?







I: ?
J: web start


I:
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J:

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...




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J: ...



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J:
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J:
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I: ?
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J: ... ... m=3, n=4...
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slide m n
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... GSP
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I:

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J:
I: ?
J:


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Richard
Interviewer (I): How many years have you been teaching?
Richard (R): Since 1996, 12 years
I: When did you know about GeoGebra?
R: Probably a year ago, not very long.
99

I: Have you been using it in teaching?


R: ummabout a year I started doing more intensively last year and I started doing
some development.
I: Are you the software developer or? I am wondering if you can do programming.
R: Its just my hobby really. I use a combination, mainly GeoGebra and everything
outside is Java Script.
I: Did you do your first degree in mathematics or?
R: Just mathematics. Just I mean here just saysthis just changes the points are at
different place andenlargement just different transformations.
I: Does it do enlargement automatically?
R: It randomly does enlargements, reflection, rotation
I: Do students have to try to get the answer or? Does it have the button shows that are
how you do it?
R: It could do. It could be quite of an enhancement.
I: But it is more interactive?
R: Yeah None of them got any teaching on it. Its for them that they can practice.
I: It is the school website so they can visit, play and practice?
R: I use it two ways; I take the classes into the IT room which probably 50 minutes
lessons. It takes about 10 minutes for pupils to log on, so that two loses about 20
minutes. So I tend to do two activities in a lesson.
I: What kind of activities do you use?
R: I sort of set combination system. The good students you got them to move on to
different activities.
I: Do you use GeoGebra more to demonstrate or?
R: I might use this to demonstrate because it does the questions quickly. It quite easy
if I want to demonstrate on the board transformations... Ive got something for this
I: I am just wondering that it is a task, is it asked the concept of transformation?
R: I probably use that to teach them and probably get them go on the board.
I: So what is your way of teaching mostly? Using in a variety of ways?
R: Probably a variety of ways. I am using mostly on the whiteboard using the pen.
I: On the whiteboard or on the screen (smart board)?
R: Just on the whiteboard. As for algebra I use a lot of writing on the board.
I: Do you use GeoGebra in teaching algebra?
R: Yes I will show you in a minute. So we do classes one or two on sequences, the
connection between (Using GeoGebra and input sequence [(n, 4n-2),n,1,100] and
enter the equation y=4X-2)

100

I: Do you use mostly in the geometry part or?


R: Yes. Mostly for the moment, I am always looking for new things to try out but its
quite hard to put things to link these twoIts always quite difficult to
I: Do you think GeoGebra links geometry and algebra?
R: Not convinced yet.
I: Why?
R: I dont know. I cant find things I can try at the moment
I: How about functions?

101

R: mmm these are more related to algebra and geometry. I dont normally use the
algebra window
I: Do you teach all different years? all of them?
R: Yes.
I: How do you differentiate the way you teach to different levels?
R: Weve got to have setsa few are good at mathsbottom sets and top ones apart
from Year 7.
I: What kind of topics of A-level do you use GeoGebra in teaching maths with
GeoGebra?
R: Probably with the graph work. So this is all module C which I do in the year 13.
Just very simple you predict the function The curve

I: So when you teach you use already made ones for them to try out?
R: Yes mostly probably more.
I: Do you construct image steps in front of them or?
R: Sometimes, but yeahprobably a mixture. Sometimes I use pre-made ones,
sometimes, when teaching gradient, Ill probably show them how to use GeoGebra to
make little triangle, show them tangent or things like that.
I: So do they try as well?
R: Probably just in this room. (Classroom)
I: Have you ever taken them to the IT room?
R: No no I havent tried that yet. Sometimes its difficult to arrange the IT rooms.
Probably get some laptops. I encourage them to use it at home but not sureits hard
to tell how
I: Do you have some activities used which are more related to Geometry? or your
favourite one?
R: I will show you again I am not sure how good this is as I was just learning
GeoGebra reallyThese are the GCSE, sometimes I have done some revision
lessons
I: Do students know about GeoGebra?

102

R: Some do. So I just sort of get students to recognise this. I try and get students
recognise all sorts of different triangles.

I: What do you think normal teachers think about GeoGebra?


R:
I: Did you prepare all materials?
R: yes just me
I: If a teacher wants to learn GeoGebra, how long does it take?
R: Probably about a month.
I: This year since you started teaching with GeoGebra, did it change the way you
teach?
R: Yes definitely. I go to the IT room a lot more. Probably its not just GeoGebra, its
more a combination of GeoGebra and Yacas. Its another CAS.
I: How did you know about it?
R: I knew it quite a while. I looked it a couple of years agoI emailed the author and
asked a few java functions to do some interaction stuff and he did that. So I have been
using Yacas to check students answers. Every time I do to make it better, so this one
I can stand at the back of the room to see what all students are doing and help them
out ask them to go to the front which is quite good.
I: What do you think students think about this computer aid?
R: I think they like it. I asked Year 8 yesterday for what is the best sort of revision for
them. And a few of them thought using the computer stuff is better. Most of them
thought the actually printed out sheets are better. Some of them said they speed for the
exam for the accuracy. So you dont need to do the same thing again and again to be
able to understand it. But still, they dont prefer this, they still prefer the written work,
longer questions as well.
I: They use it as a checking tool or?
R: They just stuck on when they want to revise a certain topic they just do.
I: How do they know?
R: Just tell them right or wrong, thats what it does. They get the score. But I havent
got yetit would be nice to get the scorepicked upthatll be really cool.

103

I: So generally their attitudes towards ICT or software are positive?


R: Yes I think so, I had my bottom set Year 11. They finished last Friday and we had
the last lesson for the exam in the IT room. I got some work with them. Last lesson
was surprising.
I: So the revision?
R: Yes I gave them some revision. They were pretty well motivated.
I: Do you think they first start learning, they basically learn use paper-and-pencil
environment, latter they use computer to review or?
R: Yes thats how I do it. I prefer to use paper-and-pencil first. Possibly Ill say
transformations cause it takes a long to draw the graphs. Transformations, this is what
I might get student to the computer room first in the future. But still, in the exam
theyve got to use paper-and-pencil. I think if I do everything on the computer.
Theyll probably not gonna do well. Theyll get bored. I do it with Year 11 for one
lesson every fortnight. I think thats been about right.
I: In the normal classroom you use the projector?
R: Yes I use quite that a lot.
I: Is it every lesson or sometimes when you need to?
R: Yeah when I need to really.
I: Do you use it quite often or once a week?
R: Depends on what topics I am doing, probably once a day on average. Probably
more the start of the year, because the first term we do a lot more on teaching and the
rest are a lot of revision.
I: Which Year you use more on the computer?
R: mmmmmmmprobablythe thing I found it hard to teach was transformations
I think this topic is probably Year 8. This is a Grammar school so we do things a bit
earlier. But its gonna be they do SATS in Year 9. So there are simple transformations
like reflections, rotations, enlargements yah, so UK Year 9, everyone went on to
Year 9, simple ones. Then they doFor GCSE, for Year 11 theyll probably do
enlargement with matrix. Thats the topic I find most useful for cause that I dont
think I could be quicker just before.
I: Students here are more able?
R: they are selective so should be quite able.
I: Do you have any favourite functions or activities in GeoGebra?
R: I should have thought about it before you came, but I will find something. Ohh..
this is a great one.
I: So you take GeoGebra as what kind of software? For geometry or algebra?
R: mmmdepends if you can use the algebra, graphs of algebra? Its nice as it does
everything.
I: Is anything you think you can not teach with GeoGebra?
R: It cant do fractions at the moment
I: Yeah I think Markus does
R: I suppose you can do I suppose you cant type inYou can make worksheet
with fractions but you cant type in half quarter or stuff like that. I think because the
interface of that Java scripts. You can display anything you want. You can do
anything you want to. You really CAN do anything.
I: So you can teach with it in any topics?
R: If you get the right idea, you can do anything. You can do any subject you can do
Physics if you have the idea and time to do it.
I: What do you think the strengths of it if you compare to other software?

104

R: Strengthsthe fact that it is free that students can use it at home. The fact that it
is Java that you can use in any platform and with Java script you can control and put it
in the webpage for me thats tremendously usefulIt is very specialised use not many
people can write with Java Scripts. Just the fact that it looks nice. Geometers
Sketchpad, I dont like how it looks I dont like its interface. So GeoGebra looks nice
and the interface is easy to use.
I: Did you use Sketchpad before?
R: I got one of myself called Cabriolet. It just does Geometry First of all I use this a
little bit.
I: Do you compare?
R: So what Autograph can do it, Autograph does graphs like hexagons better.
I: Do they have 3D?
R: yes its got 3D. But in the syllabus here there is not much 3D here. They do a little
bit in GCSE, in Year 13 they use Pythagoras in a cuboids.
I: How did you know all these software?
R: Just search and people telling you. One of my colleagues told me about GeoGebra.
He went to a course and the course tutor told him this is good and he came back and
mentioned it to me. When I tried to use I realised it is better than I thought.
I: what do you think about GeoGebra as a piece of mathematical software and an
educational tool?
R: It does the connection between algebra and geometry much better than other
programs - anywhere you can enter a number you can also enter a formula eg you can
enter (4,5) but also expressions like (3 a,2-b) so it's not actually necessary to have the
algebra window open for students to see the connection. Also the fact that you can
animate any variable by turning it into a slider is a very powerful feature. As an
educational tool: like any other tool it can be used badly or well.
I: what benefits do you think GeoGebra brings to your teaching of geometry and
algebra at the A-level?
R: I've some files to help show the proofs for the formulae for
Sin(A+B) etc. It's very good for teaching iteration (cobweb file attached). It's very
good for teaching gradient of a curve (both the concept and the proof)
I: Could I possibly also have the GeoGebra files (check box and rolling polygon) you
showed me?
These are the files:
http://www.geogebra.org/en/upload/files/piman/Non_Standard_Wheels.zip and this is
the thread with explanations:
http://www.geogebra.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3249&start=75

Tyler
Interviewer (I): How do you view GeoGebra as a piece of mathematical software?
Where did you do your degree and how you have come to be a teacher?
Tyler (T): I did a Maths degree in Oxford and I then did a PGCE in KCL. I have been
in Comberton Village College for 12 years. I was a cross teacher first and I stand head
of maths for four years. I also teach one day a week to teach PGCE for the faculty. I
have worked as an AST, supporting teachers of maths, sometimes in primary school
and secondary schools.
I: Sounds very busy
T: mmm yes it is.
I: When did you start using GeoGebra?
T: Earlier this year, about 6 months ago.

105

I: Do you use in teaching in upper level?


T: Ive used it with 10 year olds from our primary school through to Year 11.
I: How do you use GeoGebra when you teach?
T: Ok Ive used it in three different ways or I can consider there have been three
different ways it can be used, Ive used along three of these ways. One way is where I
demonstrate, so to me at the board, using it as a teaching tool using it to demonstrate
to the class, using it for the class to react, it seems that I am doing for them to be able
to say. So I used like that with some pupils. Certainly, Ive set up in advance at some
particular things for them to work out, to find out, but thats a whole class activity.
Ive used it where Ive set things up for them to pupils to interact with. So with Year
11 when we studied circle theorems, so things like the angle of semi-circle is always
90 degrees, the angle at the centre is twice as the side, I set up particular GeoGebra
files for them to look at, to explore, to make changes to, and then for them to make
hypothesis of what might be happening.
I: So thats in the classroom?
T: No its in the IT room thats children using that for themselves. There they work in
pairs, they discuss what they are doing, and they are encouraged to have ideas and test
those ideas out.
I: You prepare some pre-made files?
T: Thats it, so thats me preparing things for them to interact with. So Ive done the
work preparing some activity Ive don the work and prepare the files so pupils just
interacting with things what Ive made. And again, its for them to find out specific
links to things about particular parts of maths, particular areas of maths. We also then,
as parts of that, discover the ideas of proof and GeoGebra wasnt providing proof.
The particular angles were the same, or particular angles added up to 180 degrees or
particular angle were twice other angles. But we were then able to use those diagrams,
the diagrams that GeoGebra produced, in fact, some of the children to screen shots,
for them to look at geometrical proofs.
I: So many pupils just investigate these ideas?
T: Yes thats right
I: Did you ask them to make conjectures to test and produce a piece of mathematics
work or?
T: Yes and for something we called alternate circle theorem, when if youve got
tangent to the circle (making the constructs with GeoGebra) so this I didnt tell them
whats going on and ask them to find out what happened, and try to explain, so they
conjectured it and I set up the diagram for them to find out whats going on.
I: So you didnt tell them and ask them to investigate?
T: Thats right, so they can, first of all, see whats happening, so they could answer
questions like, if I move this point, which angles will be bigger, which angels will get
smaller which angles will stay the same, if I move this point around the circle to the
right, which angles will get bigger, so they will say, well this angle at A get bigger,
these angles at C get smaller, these angles stay the same. So they will have a real
feeling for as I move these, these angles getting bigger, this angles getting smaller,
this angels getting bigger as to whats going on. And we discuss very often if we
move a point pass the other point then things change. If you take this point here, then
it ended up two angles are 90 degrees.
So they will be able to see how it works, what things going on, so they will be able to
see properly and dynamically, So a conjecture if we dont have the tangent
involved. We know this angle as we move this point, as

106

Well also so maybe there is a linkso they both can be increasing in the same
way. They were just using it for
For example if they do this so they know the tangent form 90 degreesso they
know in this particular diagramso Can we prove that? As a way into it, in one
hour session, its perfect.
I: How often do you use it in the IT room?
T: Up to now, we have a week lessons of circle theorem. Ive used it in a one hour
section with 10 year olds, Year 6. Its been it so far. One of the things Ive like to do
is to explore what sort of subject areas GeoGebra can do and to see how pupils might
be able to learn to use themselves.
I: You mentioned three days?
T: Yes I think of it at the moment, there are three different ways, using it to
demonstrate something. If I use it to the whole class, if I was to say what happens if I
move this point, thats me demonstrating something, children having ideas of using
this as a dynamic programme. But one projective version, the pupils might not have
ideas. The second one is for them to work with a computer with a partner, interacting
this with their partner. The third way then is with Year 6 where they starting to learn
to some tools, they started to create things. Some of them started with a blank sheet
and they wanted to use like the reflection and they wanted to do reflections to make
their own pictures and interact which is lovely. We are doing things like
I: How do you guide them without using GeoGebra as a recipe?
T: With these pupils
T: They can create pictures they loved. They really enjoy it. I like this.
I: So you mainly use it for teaching geometry or?
T: So far yes,
So for example, I am quite intrigued by the idea of using this with transformations, it
uses for rotations, uses A dashed, B dashed to show the reflections, so show
transformations,which is lovelywhich it will be a very interesting way of
working or a very interesting way to use, there will be, it may bethat some pupils
can understand the rotation. So yes we have to wait and see.
I: How do you view GeoGebra as a piece of mathematical software?
T: Because where Ive come from, I used Cabri in the past so I started by seeing it as
a replacement to Cabri so as dynamic geometry theyeahso thats so far
thats how Ive used it so it will be interesting to see what are the ways of using.
appropriate ways of using it for algebra as well.
I: So comparing to Cabri how do you think about GeoGebra and why you think
GeoGebra can replace it?
T: Comparing to Cabri, I think there are a number of advantages over Cabri. One is
that the axes are very much clearer that you can change axes much much more easily
and much much more regularly. The fact that font size changes every font size, I think
its brilliant. And it changes font size of the icon size at the top that it change the font
size for everything I think it is stunning. The fact the axes and grid are so easy to use.
Its brilliant. The fact that the properties and changing colours is so easy to use, I
think this has and it projects far better than Cabri does. So thats why huge
advantage and changing the properties on Cabri is frustrating and annoying. Its far
far superior in terms of projection. It also now can be used to put pictures at the
backgroundbut to put pictures can be rotated and reflected. One of the things that I
am really looking forward to do with some pupils is reflecting and rotating and
enlarging pictures. So being able to ask them to take a photograph and we could then
use as part of these. Thats what Cabri cant, as far as Ive known, do yet. Yes you can

107

use it at the background but its only in Cabri II. Cabri is also a commercial package.
Weve got Cabri II at school. Cabri II+ is different. Cabri II+ will run Cabri II files
but they are not backward and compatible. So my Cabri II wont run Cabri II+ files
which I think is naughty cause that means its a different version, and it ought to be
called version III. But to update to upgrade from version II to version II + you have to
pay itagain its a different version, and thats expensive. For pupils to be able
download it to use it at home. It would be absolutely ideal.
I: So the fact it is free, will you ask pupils can use it for homework or course work at
home in the future?
T: Ideally yes. We have One of the things that worries me mathematics teaching in
general is that we have subscription at school and in the same way that lots of school
do to a website that pupils can access at home. They have their own passwords for it,
this is my maths. I have a personal password for it. They can get on the website and
they can answer, it shows them particular areas of maths and they can answer
questions. The problem is that it really is very very constraint and the technology is on
the stage that it will take yes no questions and it will mark answers to questions. But it
wont actually allow pupils to explore things properly which means that pupils seeing
maths as its something where you listen and read the instruction and then you do
results. This (GeoGerba) is very different. This is maths by interacting. This is
mathematics by trying things out, by conjecturing, by having a go
I: How about algebra? What software do you use to teach algebra?
T: Ive used in fact with the same Year 11 group I used Autograph with them. The
reason Ive used Autograph. I wanted it to start with the sine wave and I wanted to
start the sine curve they be able to write it like that. The way Autograph doesis
using gradients. I could have defined f(x) as sine. But I wanted to start with y equals f
(x).So then pupils can explore y=sin(x). How does that transform? What happens with
4 sin(x) and sin (4x) the lovely thing about the trick of functions, you can tell the
differences between vertical and horizontal stretch and squash. You cant tell its been
squashed it out. And again children would use Autograph to conjecture.
I: Do you think GeoGebra can do this?
T: I think it can. I would want it to be able to make y=sin(x). So if there is a way of
making it happen on GeoGebra, I think it will be ideal.
What happens if y=x cubed. So they will be conjecturing and testing those conjectures.
I: But when you type in y=f(x) does it work with Autograph?
T: You will have to type y=f(x). If I use y= sin(x) I am assuming that I can does
pi works here as pi? Soyeah we can do it like that but it happens to draw to use this.
So now if I do that will work but thats forto the left by 90 But like I said I
want it to work that way. It does the work around here but it didnt do what exactly I
wanted to do. So I used Autograph.
I: So compare GeoGebra to Autograph you still think you will?
T: Well only becauseThe only thing that Autograph still has overwellthe
solution is to put in the degrees so perfect so if I do y= cos(x)
degreesyeahtry y=sin x degrees take away 5 so it worked. If you put degrees in
it then works I didnt see that happen but I do now.
I: Will you use GeoGebra to teach algebra in the future?
T: It makes sense to me because of things you can do with it, you cant do on
Autograph. So if I drag this left and right we can see the changes happening (on the
algebraic window) so yeahthats a big deal. The pupils again can it with Autograph
but they can also do it with GeoGebra at home.
I: Have you used it for upper level?

108

T: Only with Year 11. Year 11 is the highest weve got. Thats the circle theorems.
I: What topics do you think you can use GeoGebra?
T: I think semi-circle theorems, transformations, some transformations. I wouldnt
personally want to use areas of circles or conferences of circle. Thats what I want
pupils to do in practical ways. I think these would be more powerful than something
on GeoGebra. So thats why I wouldnt use it for that, whereas the circle theorems,
where the alternatives is either been taught they all are like that or having to draw lots
of diagrams and measure lots of things. Thats sensible as it is not accurate when the
things youve made are not accurate. So similarly with trigonometry graphs, it might
at some point be useful to introduce the ideas of a sine graph by using a circle by
doing some measuring. But if you want to do transformation for the graphs, it doesnt
seem worth to re-plotting all the points every single time. You want to use the power
so let GeoGebra to do that. Similarly with reflections and rotations, there is one stage
having a mirror and see how it is reflected, its great. Having a piece of paper you can
fold, its great, its important and its great but after a while if you are wanting to do
multiple transformations, it may well be that GeoGebra is more effective.
I: So you use a mixture of different ways?
T: Yeah what I wouldnt want to do is to get to a stage where you are using
GeoGebra for everything, whether sensible or not. Because it is clearly there are times
when interacting with physical materials, its going to be more useful.
I: Do you think GeoGebra links Geometry and algebra?
T: Thats particularly obvious for the drawing graphs and thats one of the reasons
why I like to use this for drawing graphsits that it with pupils Id talk about
different representations, talk about how y= 3x+2 could be a way of describing a
sequence. It could be algebra it could be about it could be formula it could be
equations of lines or graphs it could be different ways of presenting the same idea
and they might mean very different things, where you take a taxi journey, youve got
something to do with the cost about the taxi journey you cant do all the fractions
with penny. You have 20 pence, 20 pence equivalence. Nowadays so there is some
kind of integer issue going on whereas the graph straight lines every point of line is on
there. So then, this is a nice way to talk about the link between the algebra and picture
which again is another thing that GeoGebra still has over Cabri or Geometers
Sketchpad that you see specifically some of those ...
I: Is there any thing or functions you particularly like about GeoGebra?
T: I love concepts I love the idea you can set up diagrams and interact with it. I love
the slider.
I: Do you use it?
T: I do, some of them I showed on Saturdayyes Ill probably. (drawing the graph
with GeoGebra) so yes for pupils to see what happens to be able to see what
happens if its minus
I: Do you create lots of GeoGebra worksheets yourself?
T: Yes a few like this.
I: Whats your favourite?
T: This one. Because partly not for the part of GeoGebra sheet but to saywhat will
happen if I take that enlargement to the left And as I mentioned on Saturday, if I
move this to the left, almost everybody thinks this will get bigger. Its really
interesting to unpick why and I think the reason is that lots of people when they
first introducing enlargement as a torch or an overhead projector where if you have
torch if you move the torch away, the size changes. Thats a fundamental
misunderstanding of how an enlargement works. Because with a torch its been

109

projected to a wall or a screen but that wall or screen is not moving whereas here
thats not how it works. So the idea we can talk about what will happen without even
having to do it. So we can show: what happens if I move this point downwards? The
other point moves three times as fast, shows that they are linked, then we can spend
proper amount of time talking about what happens if I move this to the left. And only
at the very end of that discussion, do we then actually do it. So yeah when we have
a file a few down to c then it does stay the same. Then they want to know things like:
What happens if I make this one, then wonderfully pupils want to know: can you
make it a decimal? Thats how they call it, what happens if I make this point to the
centre? Can you make it negative? What happens if thats a zero? Then again there
are very nice things you can do with this.
I: Is there anything youd like to add about your views on GeoGebra?
T: Only that its still very new. But its really exciting so far. Its going to be really
really exciting to see how it develops and how we can develop using it.
I: Anything you think could be improved?
T: Well I didnt know how to do the trig graphs so y=sin(x) I couldnt get how to
make it work in degrees but now I can get it to work in degrees. So weve sorted. So
nonot nothing I can think of at present I am sure there will be things that crop
up. But I have got enough things to be thinking about that I can use it for. Thats
intuitive. But I do make a difference between I would draw a distinction between
knowing how to use it these tools and still getting used to using it as tools. Youve
seen that I make mistakes and I am still learning. I wanted to do something and Ive
gone to the wrong menu. But its nice enough it works in a way I found its intuitive
so if I want to find one, I go on to the next one until I find what I am wanting. So
thats not a big deal. But making a different between the tools and knowing how to
use GeoGebra toolsand the ways of using it, so which topics do you use? So sort of
pedagogical ways of using it.
I: As you mentioned tools? What tool do you take it?
T: As an environment for exploring dynamic geometry.

110

Appendix II: A Matrix for Generating Theme-Based Assertions for Case


Finding Rated Important (adopted from Stake 2006, P. 51)

Jay
Finding I

Finding II
Finding III

Li
Finding I

Finding II

Finding III

Richard
Finding I

Finding II

Finding III

Tyler
Finding I

Themes
Teacher
Background
1
12
years
teaching
experience

Views
on
GeoGebra
2
Positive about
GeoGebra

Translator

Software
Evaluation
3
GSP and GeoGebra

Ways of using
GeoGebra
4
HomeResearch,
Teaching
portfolio
and ClassroomDemonstration

Negative about
ICT in general
SA/ IT
Negative about
student attitude
towards
technology
1
2
13
years Positive about
teaching
GeoGebra
experience

SketchUp
GeoGebra

School
website
designer

Yacas
GeoGebra

and IT roomActivities
Revision

3
Cabri
GeoGebra

4
and Homeresearch/
teaching
material

3
4
GSP and GeoGebra HomeResearch/
teaching
material
preparation
School
Less
positive Cabri
and IT roomwebsite
about
GeoGebra
Demonstration,
designer
technology in
Revision
general
GeoGebra
Negative about
translator/
student attitude
trainer
towards
technology
1
2
3
4
12
years Balanced views GSP and GeoGebra Hometeaching
on GeoGebra
research/
experience
teaching
material
preparation
Software
Balanced views Cabri
and Classroomdeveloper
on technology
GeoGebra
Demonstration
Positive about
student attitude
towards
technology
1
2
12
years Balanced views
teaching
on GeoGebra
experience

111

Finding II

Finding III

preparation
GeoGebra
Balanced views Autograph
and Classroomteacher
on technology
GeoGebra
Demonstration
trainer
Student
interaction
AST/ school Positive about GSP and GeoGebra IT roommathematics
student attitude
Activities/
consultant/
towards
student
PGCE tutor
technology
investigation

Appendix III:
Research Timeline
Task

March
2008

Preliminary classroom naturalistic


observation
Documentation- website pages, publications
Semi-structured and in-depth interviews

from
from
from

to
to

Teacher observations

from

to

Analysing interviews

April
2008

May June - July


2008 2008

to

from

to

Analysing supplementary data

from to

Writing up

from to

112

Appendix IV:
Informed Consent- England

St. Edmunds College


Cambridge CB3 0BN

Dear teachers,
I am investigating the educational experiences and views of pre-university
mathematics teachers on ICT (particularly the use of GeoGebra) in the teaching of
mathematics cross-culturally. Therefore, I hope to interview teachers form Taiwan
and England.
For the purpose of data preservation, the interview will be video-recorded and will
take approximately one hour. The data and results of these interviews will be used for
academic purposes only.
For ethical reasons, the names of participants will be anonymous. Participants have
the rights to opt out from the research as well as the rights to review materials in
respect of the interviews both in written and taped form. All involvement in the
interview is voluntary.
It is my greatest wish that this study will facilitate the improvement of and
contribution to educational development in mathematics teaching with the use of ICT.
I do sincerely hope you will be willing to be involved and thank you very much in
advance for participating in this study.

With kindest regards and many thanks,

Yours sincerely,
Yu-Wen Allison Lu

113

Appendix V:
Informed Consent- Taiwan

GeoGebra

114

Appendix VI: Sample Interview Protocol


Background
How long have you been teaching mathematics?
Do you use any kind of technology applications for your teaching?
Probe: How do you use these technologies? How did you become familiar
with GeoGebra?
Actual use of GeoGebra

How would you describe your experiences with GeoGebra?


What kinds of changes would you want in ICT/ GeoGebra when you would
consider using ICT in your teaching?

Views on GeoGebra

What do you think about the use of technology in your teaching practices?
Do you think GeoGebra is useful for your teaching?

Follow up
Is there anything that we did not mention before and you would like to add?
Thank you very much for your time!
Would you be interested in receiving a summary about findings of the study?

115

Appendix VII: Jays Example of Geometrical Constructions

116

117

Appendix VIII:
Lis Examples of Proofs of Theorems and Problem-solving

118

Appendix IX:
Lis Revision Worksheet:
.GeoGebra
1. ^ : Shift 6
2. | : Shift
3. CTRL-Z
4. ,
, , ,
ESC,

1.
(1). y = mx+k , m: k: Y
a, b X Y
, m, k
y= mx+k

2.

| |, abslute value

119

(2).

x
y

1,
a
b

y=|x| y=abs(x)
y=|x|-1 y=abs(x)-1
y=|x-1| y=abs(x-1)
y=|x-1|-1 y=abs(x-1)-1
3.
y=ax2+bx+c
y=2x2+x+1 y=2x^2+x+1 ,
1 y=x2+|x-2| y=x^2+abs(x-2)

x-2=0, x=2 x=2


2 y=|x2+x|-2 y=abs(x^2+x)-2

x2+x =0, x= -1, 0 x= -1, 0


4.

y=x4-x3-9x2+2x+12 y=x^4-x^3-9x^2+2x+12
f(x)=x4-x3-9x2+2x+12,
,
x
-3
f(x)

-2

-1

5.

y = ax

6.

, : a
: 3 : 0 ,
ESC
y=a^x
y = logax

, : a
: 3 : 0 ,
ESC
y=ln(x)/ln(a) ()
7.
( y=sin x ) y = a sin( bx+c ) + d
a: b: c, d
y= sin(x) y=2sin(x) 2 y=sin(2x)
y=sin(x+2) 2 y=sin(x)+2 2
------------------------------------------------------ y=sin(x+pi/2) 2 , ..
,
y=Asin(x)+Bsin(x)
y=sin(x)+cos(x)
y=sin(x+45)
y=1.41*sin(x +45)

y=tan(x)
x=pi/2 ( ) x= -pi/2
x= -3pi/2
y=tan(x)
?

120

5
-4
-11
-20
7
(2) tan 4 (3) tan 5
(4) tan 6
(5) tan 7
3
:
a= 7pi/3
a= 7pi/3
b= 5pi/4
c= - 4pi/5
d= -11pi/6
e= - 20pi/7 (a, tan(a) ) (b, tan(b) )
(c, tan(c) ) (d, tan(d) ) (e, tan(e) ) 5
GeoGebra cot(x), sec(x), csc(x)
y= 1/tan(x) y= 1/cos(x) y= 1/sin(x)
8.

y= asin(x)
y= acos(x)
y= atan(x)
(1) tan

Appendix X:
Tylers Example of Geometrical Constructions

121

122

Appendix XI: Summary of Emerging Themes


1) Conceptions of Mathematics- Mathematics Content Knowledge
2) Conceptions of the use of technology- Conceptions of GeoGebra Conceptions
of mathematics teaching and learning in relation to conceptions of GeoGebra
Teacher transition- teaching practices
Benefit for students future studies and work
GeoGebra as a educational tool
3) Infrastructure Change- Technology related themes
Critiques of hardware
Critiques of software
Encouraging advancement of technology
4) Practices with GeoGebra Teachers mathematical content knowledge
GeoGebra affordances
Mathematical Scope- algebra-related, geometry-related or both
algebraic and geometrical topics
5) Cultural issues
Student-centred interactive pedagogy/ Teacher-centred didactic
Curriculum-focused
Textbook-oriented
Exam-driven

123