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Rocha, H. Games and the learning of mathematics outside the classroom. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. Barcelona, Spain: EduLearn, 2014. Abstract

H. Rocha

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (PORTUGAL)

Playing games is a recreational activity that is also highly recognized as a potentially rich activity for the teaching and learning. It is an activity that involves the recognition and observance of rules, as well as the development of strategies to achieve victory. It is thus an activity that encourages compliance with rules but also the development of learning and therefore has a socializing character while stimulating critical thinking and analysis of situations. This is why many authors think about playing games as a problem-solving activity with great potential for the learning of mathematics. However, a review of the literature suggests that mathematical learning does not always occur, pointing to the relevance of the specific features of the game and the circumstances in which it is used. Looking to contribute to a better understanding of these issues, the project that was the basis of this study focuses on the use of games by middle school students, intending to promote their mathematical learning in a voluntary and informal context, outside the classroom. The games were available in MatLab, a room of the school supervised by mathematics teachers, which students could visit in their leisure time. In this communication I intend to analyze how the visits to MatLab contributed to the mathematical learning of students, considering the influence of specific characteristics of the games and the atmosphere created in MatLab, given the students’ previous mathematical knowledge.

The study adopts a qualitative and interpretative methodological approach, undertaking two student case studies. Data collection was completed over three months and included observation of twenty visits of these students to MatLab. Data collection was made through the development of a logbook, audio record of the students’ visits and two interviews to the students and to their teacher. Data analysis was based on the evidence gathered in the light of the problem under study.

The conclusions reached stress the importance of certain features of the games to promote student engagement, leading to a desire for self-improvement, very important for the development of sustained learning. Computer games have proven to have a stronger potential to engage students than board games. Nevertheless, the most important characteristics of a game seem to be related to the possibility of playing at different mathematical levels (without getting blocked by lack of knowledge) and to the possibility of keep getting better marks (without the existence of a maximum level from which evolution is not possible). In what concerns to achievement in mathematics’ classes, the students’ teacher reports an improvement in mathematics knowledge (more evident in the average achiever student) as well as an increase in students’ involvement in class work (more evident in the low achiever student).

keywords: game-based learning, mathematics, informal learning.

Viseu, F., A. Silva, H. Rocha, and P. Martins. "The graphical representation in the learning of functions by 10th grade students." Educación Matemática. 34.1 (2022): 186-213. AbstractWebsite

A exploração de diferentes representações promove a compreensão dos tópicos de funções. Partindo deste pressuposto, com este estudo pretende-se analisar o contributo da representação gráfica na aprendizagem da noção de função inversa e da paridade de uma função por alunos do 10.º ano de escolaridade e identificar dificuldades na exploração dessa representação. Na procura de responder a este objetivo, adotou-se uma abordagem qualitativa e interpretativa para compreender as ações dos alunos na resolução das tarefas
propostas. A análise das resoluções mostra que a representação gráfica serviu de suporte para a instituição das definições dos tópicos em estudo. E isto apesar de alguns alunos revelarem dificuldades ao interpretar e ao construir gráficos; ao identificar imagens e imagens inversas em gráficos de funções; ao representar determinadas características gráficas associadas a alguns conceitos, como é o caso da relação entre a paridade de uma função e a simetria na sua representação gráfica (confundindo eixo de simetria e de reflexão). Globalmente, este estudo mostra como a abordagem de conceitos a partir da representação gráfica pode contribuir para a sua compreensão.

Rocha, H. "Graphical representation of functions using technology: a window to teacher knowledge." Teaching Mathematics and its Applications. 39.2 (2020): 105-126.Website
Campos, S., F. Viseu, H. Rocha, and J. A. Fernandes The graphing calculator in the promotion of mathematical writing. Proceedings of 12th International Conference onTechnology in Mathematics Teaching. Faro, Portugal: Universidade do Algarve, 2015. Abstract

Through writing, students express many of their processes and ways of thinking. Since at high school level some of the activities are carried out with the graphing calculator, we intend to investigate the contribution of this resource to promote the mathematical writing in the learning of continuous nonlinear models at 11th grade. Adopting a qualitative methodology, we collected and analyzed the students’ writing productions. What they write when using the calculator gives evidence about the information valued (when they sketch graphics without any justification); about the strategies used (when they define the viewing window and relate different menus on the graphing calculator); and about the reasoning developed (when they justify the information given by the calculator and the formulation of generalizations and conjectures validation).