The use of electronic question and answer forums in mathematics teacher education

Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 2003, 5 pp. 19 - 30
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Many mathematics educators share a view of mathematics as a social and cultural phenomenon and believe that the learning of mathematics concepts is developed and enhanced through the use of learning communities. Electronic discussion boards provide one avenue for supporting such social learning. This paper discusses the use of a Question and Answer section of a discussion board in a first year mathematics education subject for primary student teachers, and the way in which this facility fits with ideas of social learning. Theoretical perspectives of social learning in mathematics through the use of an electronic community are explored. Examples are given of how learning was developed through questions and answers in the mathematics education subject and insights shared regarding the various uses of this facility by the students. Issues related to participation, peer misconceptions, learning styles and teacher intervention are raised and discussed. The paper concludes that for students who are comfortable with the use of electronic conferencing, there is value in Question and Answer facilities in raising autonomy and supporting conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts, but that the medium does not suit all learners of mathematics.
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