Profiles of software utilization by university mathematics faculty

2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

Tools and methods used to maximize mathematics learning are a primary concern for mathematics education. According to the literature, software applications are becoming increasing more prevalent in mathematics. While there exists a consensus establishing technology as a valuable tool in mathematics, and consequently ample recognition that it is important to mathematics education, arbitrary application of technology is both inefficient and ineffective. The purpose of this study is to describe software utilization by academic mathematicians.

Survey research was conducted using an electronic questionnaire distributed to members of 47 AMS Group I university mathematics departments (n=2857). Data were used to describe, differentiate, and explain practices regarding the nature and extent of utilizing mathematical software to facilitate mathematics. Further, beliefs about mathematics education were explored. In addition to increasing awareness in the education community, profiles based on participants' responses (n=422) were created to aid in identifying core practices of mathematicians with respect to technology.

The results indicate that software is increasingly important to mathematics, especially to communicating mathematics. However, participants expressed less favorable views when relating these technologies to learning and understanding mathematics. MATLAB, Mathematica, and Maple were the three primary software applications utilized. Selection of these software depended on the branch of mathematics but not necessarily on mathematical activities. In addition, results show that computer programming is considered an important aspect of mathematizing.

In conclusion, there are appropriate choices and uses of mathematical software for mathematics and thus for mathematics education. LaTeX should be used for communication, C++ or Fortran for programming, and MATLAB for applied mathematics. Mathematics education researchers should play an important role by monitoring mathematical activities and software use in order to develop new strategies for teaching and learning.

Indexing (details)

Mathematics education;
Higher education
0280: Mathematics education
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Mathematics; Software utilization; University faculty
Profiles of software utilization by university mathematics faculty
Quinlan, James Edward
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 68/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Owens, Douglas T.
The Ohio State University
University location
United States -- Ohio
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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