The first year of the study incorporated several elements: the delivery of professional development by TI instructors, developing a variety of instruments, administering surveys
and pre- and post-tests, observing selected classes, meeting with student focus groups, interviewing teachers and department heads, and arranging for additional teacher support.
There were several challenges during the year. Technical difficulties slowed the process of implementation considerably, and the presence of a teacher who used the TI-Navigator on
a fairly regular basis in one of the six classes at the control school created an unexpected problem. As a result, we concluded that drawing firm inferences about the effects of the
TI-Navigator on student achievement based on this year was not advisable. In our year one report, we presented and analysed the collected data to provide a rich picture of the study participants and their environment in preparation for our subsequent years’ work.
We treated this first year as a study of implementation, and began the second year by repeating the attitudinal surveys and pre-tests; we then followed students through grades
10 and (in some cases) into grade 11.
In the second year of the study we continued to investigate how teachers made use of the TI-Navigator in their classrooms and whether use of the TI-Navigator is beneficial to
students in early secondary mathematics. In particular, we focused on helping teachers in the experimental schools extend their implementation via class discussions.
By the start of year two, seven of the eight study teachers at the experimental schools had relatively strong technological backgrounds. We found that all teachers gained additional
confidence in use of TI-Navigator, although one was still tentative about general use and troubleshooting by the end of the year. LearningCheck and Quick Poll were the most
commonly used Ti-Navigator applications but all study teachers used activities recommended by colleagues or shared at the PD sessions.
Several of the observed teachers who had followed a traditional pedagogy showed some movement towards a more constructivist teaching style. Although they did not hold full
class discussions, they did engage students in analysing responses and considering the source of errors. These strategies were stressed in the three days of professional
development provided to the participating teachers during year two.
While teachers were very positive about the effects of TI-Navigator use on students –noting that students enjoyed the activities and were motivated to participate – the statistical
analysis of pre- and post-test data showed that the treatment had a significant positive effect only in the case of the academic classes. Academic students who participated in
focus group interviews reported that they enjoyed using TI-Navigator (though students in one class were frustrated by the teacher’s ongoing difficulties with set up). We noted that
students in the observed academic classes were engaged by the activities and that in one of the classes, student participation was accompanied by a noticeable energy.
No statistically significant difference was found between the control and experimental student groups for applied stream students in year two. However, despite these results, we
contend that applied students did benefit from the use of TI-Navigator in other ways. We noted that students in the two observed applied classes were actively involved in the
mathematics activities; applied students who participated in a focus group indicated that they enjoyed the technology and particularly appreciated being able to share answers
Two teachers at each school agreed to continue participating in the study in year three (although one teacher at the control school opted out of observations), and in the 2008-
2009 school year we followed 219 students into Grade 11. The project in this final year of the study consisted solely of pre-test/post-test analysis and classroom observations.
Quantitative analyses of third-year data showed no significant group differences in test scores; however, we believe that the third year of the study contributed important
We theorized three roles for TI-Navigator in the classroom – as support for sharing, checking, and modelling. Using these categories, we analysed the practice of the study
teachers and found evidence that most teachers had used TI-Navigator for sharing and checking but had not taken advantage of its modelling capabilities. Drawing on Hoz and
Weizman’s (2008) theory of teacher conceptions, we carried out a case study examination of the practice of three teachers. This revealed that those teachers who were most successful in moving towards a classroom connectivity approach already possessed (or were developing) views of mathematics as a social construct, and mathematics teaching as engaging students in doing and discussing mathematics.
The results of the student baseline survey indicated that although there were a number of instances of statistically significant differences, the control and experimental students had many of the same experiences of and attitudes toward mathematics. In particular, responses suggest that for both groups, mathematics had been taught in a very traditional manner.
Students reported that very little use was made of computers for demonstrating ideas or student work, and students rarely engaged in mathematics projects or used an overhead
projector to demonstrate their work.
The teacher baseline survey indicated that overall, the study teachers were very experienced, and fairly traditional in approach. Most had used graphing calculators and the CBR/CBL and a majority had used Geometer’s Sketchpad, but use of other technologies was sparse. An interesting finding is that proportionally more teachers used Geometer’s Sketchpad with applied classes than with academic classes. Some teachers had used algebra tiles, a strong number had used co-operative learning strategies, and a few had implemented assessment strategies that went beyond tests and quizzes. These, and the very positive responses to the questions on the PD survey with regard to in-class mentoring suggested that while some teachers were interested in adopting new approaches, they likely required more support than is generally provided.
Teachers at the experimental schools were asked to provide feedback on the professional development provided by TI during the first year. Some teachers responded that the
summer and fall PD sessions did not provide sufficient help with implementation. On the other hand, the prep-time and in-class assistance with a mentor provided by Texas
Instruments received positive comments; teachers indicated that good ideas and technical help were provided and that materials developed for their classes were helpful. The mentor
reported that the support resulted in a gradual improvement in the handling of technical aspects of Navigator use, and in the incorporation of TI-Navigator in the curriculum. In particular he found that the in-class help encouraged the teachers to use the technology in different contexts. For year two, teachers requested training grounded in the Grade 10 curriculum, particularly sessions that were activity-based but included more time for practice. This suggestion was incorporated into the training provided in year two of the study.
The technical aspects of implementation were difficult for most, but by the end of year one both students and teachers were reasonably comfortable with the system. At the same time, these teachers had not yet fully embraced the pedagogy that TI-Navigator can enable. Links to other strands and contexts were infrequent and discussions that engaged all
students in analysing the images sent to the TI-Navigator, or pulling together the outcomes of the day’s activity, were not held. Significant progress in these areas was noticed in the
second and third years as teachers gained confidence and experience. One focus group meeting was held with students from one of the experimental schools.
The students were very positive about the use of technology. One said that calculators make math easier, although another believed that they make some people lazy. A third student said that it was faster to do tests – and fun to be able to analyse everyone’s answers. Three of the students felt that the technology had not affected their understanding
– because “the teacher still teaches you”, but one noted: “on the screen you can see how others have done so it’s helpful. [The] teacher goes over the wrong answers so that we can
understand where we went wrong.” Another commented that it helps to be able to “see it.”
Despite the technical difficulties, teachers from the experimental schools gave very positive responses during interviews conducted at the end of year one. Overall, the six
teachers said that they enjoyed using the TI- Navigator. Some of the benefits mentioned by one or more teachers were: TI-Navigator assisted them to better structure their lessons,
using LearningCheck and Quick Poll helped them determine whether the students understood the material; and use of the TI-Navigator helped in meeting the diverse needs and abilities of students in the classroom. A number of teachers expressed the belief that more students were actively involved in learning.
Teachers said that it was time consuming to learn to use the technology seamlessly and to reorganize their lessons to accommodate the use of the TI-Navigator; however, all teachers were enthusiastic about continuing the project with one stating “I don’t see that we have to improve anything. It was a good experience for me and for the students”. Another said “I love it! It helps me make [math] more interesting”.
The project team interviewed the department heads as well. Both of the department heads at the experimental schools regularly used the TI-Navigator system in their classes and
were very positive about the benefits to teachers and students. With regard to implementation, one of the department heads noted that incorporating technology into
lessons requires a willingness to change one’s pedagogy – something that was a problem for some study teachers. The other department head offered a similar idea but from a
different perspective; i.e., the positive aspect of TI-Navigator use is that it forces teachers to reflect on different on alternative ways of presenting material.
During the first year, both heads acted as role models and provided significant support for the new users. They provided materials and advice, visited teachers’ classrooms to assist
and to troubleshoot technical problems, and invited the teachers to watch them teach with the TI-Navigator. Although schools were not chosen on the basis of school-based expertise
with TI-Navigator, it is difficult to imagine how the project could have progressed without the continuous onsite help provided by these two dedicated, and knowledgeable,
The collected data and our experience in the first year of the study provided insights into the nature of TI-Navigator implementation by “typical” teachers and the support they
require in order to experience success. We found that need for support falls into two categories – technical, and pedagogical. We suggest that professional development sessions for such teachers need to include additional practice time on technical skills, and also that teachers may require customized materials developed specifically for their
In subsequent years of the study, we found that use of Navigator can encourage a more open pedagogy (i.e., one that is in line with NCTM precepts) when teachers believe that
mathematics is socially constructed and that mathematics teaching must involve students in investigating and discussing mathematics. For this reason, we believe that professional
development that focuses on changes in beliefs and attitudes may be the most significant factor in helping teachers use this technology.