The Use of Electronic question and Answer Forums in Mathematics Teacher Education

Sandra Schuck

Abstract


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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