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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Academic Mathematicians' Dispositions Toward Software Use in Mathematics Instruction: What are the Underlying Reasons?
by Khoshaim, Heba Bakr, Ph.D., Ohio University, 2012, 286; 10631098
Abstract (Summary)

Academic mathematicians' opinions are divided regarding software use in undergraduate mathematics instruction. This study explored these opinions through interviews and a subsequent survey of mathematicians at PhD-granting institutions in the United States regarding their dispositions and the underlying attitudes. Most prior related work had focused on mathematicians who used software in teaching, thus ignoring skeptics and critics. This investigation studied the full range of views. The research questions were · What are academic mathematicians' dispositions toward software integration in undergraduate mathematics classrooms? · What are the reasons underlying academic mathematicians' dispositions toward software integration in undergraduate mathematics classrooms?

An exploratory sequential research design built, expanded, and tested a model to explain mathematicians' dispositions toward software use in undergraduate instruction. This model subsumed Fishbein and Ajzen's attitude framework. The researcher reviewed anecdotal evidence, published opinions, related theories, and research results to add to this framework, thus building an initial model. Next, interview data were used to expand the model, and the data and expanded model served as bases to develop a survey instrument. Using a sample of mathematicians from 50 PhD-granting institutions, survey data tested the factors in the expanded model. The interview data and the survey data were triangulated with the reviewed literature to refine the model to include factors that emerged as the underlying reasons for the use or nonuse of software.

The triangulation process suggests that most mathematicians have a moderate and somewhat skeptical attitude toward software use in teaching. Small numbers of mathematicians either strongly oppose or strongly support software use across undergraduate instruction. Most mathematicians value the benefits of software but are concerned about its potential harm and prefer traditional instructional methods.

The interviews identified 8 factors and 16 subfactors that contribute to mathematicians' attitudes regarding software use. Among these, the triangulation process suggests that software characteristics, perceived effect on learning, and instructor's personality were the three most influential factors. Among the remaining factors, students' level, students' major, instructor's educational background, and teaching background were supported. In addition, there were inconsistent results with regard to institution and research interest as factors, which may warrant future investigation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Foley, Gregory D.
Commitee: Hitchcock, John, Lopez-Permouth, Sergio, McKeny, Timothy
School: Ohio University
Department: Curriculum and Instruction Mathematics Education
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Mathematics, Education, Educational technology, Higher education
Keywords: Mathematical software, Mathematicians' attitude, Mathematicians' dispositions, Mathematics teaching, Undergraduate mathematics classrooms, Using software in mathematics instruction
Publication Number: 10631098
ISBN: 978-0-355-01395-5
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