Homework solutions, digital citizenship, and math education (EDTC 6101, Digital readiness project)

It stretches my thinking to imagine how Ribble’s (2013) nine elements of digital citizenship can be meaningfully incorporated into math education. Digital citizenship is a concept that relates respecting, educating, and protecting yourself and others while in an online world through nine elements: digital etiquette, digital access, digital law, digital communication, digital literacy, digital commerce, digital rights and responsibility, digital safety, and digital health and welfare. Technology is a large part of our culture and I believe that being a thoughtful digital citizen is as important as being a thoughtful citizen of the physical world, so I think it is important to teach digital citizenship where applicable. In my day to day life, digital citizenship feels like a highly relevant and core skill. However, during my math classes as an undergrad, I don’t feel like digital citizenship was ever addressed.

Pre-interview preparation

Since I was struggling to think of ways in which digital citizenship could be taught within a math class, I wanted to use the interview portion of EDU 6101’s Digital Readiness Project as a way to uncover some of the inherent connections. Therefore, I developed a list of questions based on the ways I thought technology could intersect with math education – including topics like gender-related differences in calculator/math software use, and accepting students as friends on Facebook – but I left the interview open enough to follow unexpected connections. For this project I interviewed math professor Dr. James Lambers of University of Southern Mississippi.

Post-interview infographic

This infographic represents some general information about technology and math education. What I chose to include was based on my interview with Dr. Lambers.

 

Post-interview reflection

Upon reflecting about the interview, one connection between digital citizenship and math education stood out to me as the most meaningful, and that is the connection to digital law with digitally accessible homework solutions. The connection is possibly more in spirit than technically an issue of copyright law, but the issue of students using digital homework solutions is morally and ethically similar to the problem of stealing content since both are an issue of presenting unoriginal work as your own.

As math educators, we want students to take ownership of their learning, and digitally obtained homework solutions via resources like Wolfram Alpha, Chegg, or past students can exacerbate the problem of students working to “get the grade” instead of working to learn. I don’t mean to say that using solutions is always negative for the learning process – it’s how solutions are used that makes the difference. I’m specifically referring to when students copy solutions without understanding what they’re copying, and this is the kind of behavior we want to prevent. I’m envisioning a connection where helping students develop their moral and ethical thinking for citing sources of digitally or otherwise obtained solutions could promote a shift from focusing on “getting the answer” to being responsible for the learning process.

James (2014) gives us some insight that may be useful for understanding students’ moral and ethical considerations regarding instructor-developed homework problems and solutions. Her research suggests that knowing the content creator can increase young people’s moral and ethical sensitivity (p. 63), and one study showed that students were more likely to use digital content without permission as opposed to physical content (p. 67). This makes me wonder if students may be more likely to respect a teacher’s request to not distribute solutions simply because the students know the teacher, and if the students may be more likely to not distribute physical handouts of solutions, as opposed to electronic solutions. Furthermore, her work suggests that young people who have created content within a community feel more responsibility towards that community and are more likely to employ moral and ethical considerations. This makes me wonder if developing a sense of community in a math class where students are also content creators could support their moral and ethical thinking about copying and distributing homework solutions.

Beyond the direct parallels made between James’ work and math education, these questions also got me asking broader questions about using solutions: How can we utilize James’ research to help us teach moral and ethical use? How are students thinking about the use of digital homework solutions? Are they making consequence-based decisions or employing moral and ethical thinking? When do they employ moral and ethical thinking? What activities increase the moral and ethical thinking of math students? Do they have a free-for-all mindset regarding solutions (p. 56)? These questions are very interesting to me and could inform possible directions for future dissertation work.

 


References

James, C., & Jenkins, H. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, new media, and the ethics gap. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lyublinskaya, I., & Tournaki, N. (2011). The effect of teaching and learning with Texas Instruments handheld devices on student achievement in algebra. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching30(1), 5-35. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ924358

Munger, G. F., & Loyd, B. H. (1989). Gender and attitudes toward computers and calculators: Their relationship to math performance. Journal of Educational Computing Research5(2), 167-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.2190/R1HL-LG9J-1YN5-AQ4N

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). (2016). Mathematics literacy: Gender. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2015/pisa2015highlights_5c.asp

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of asynchronous learning networks, 17(1), 137-145. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379

Svadilfari, Sean. (2008). Homework. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/22280677@N07/2272656387

Digital education leadership mission statement (EDTC 6101)

Mission

My mission, as a digital education leader and future college mathematics instructor, is to be a resource of knowledge about technological tools and ethical considerations regarding technology for my colleagues and students. To do this, I need to be fluent in both the common and research-based technologies used in mathematics education, and in the research and debates surrounding the ways in which we – as people – use (or don’t use) technology. Digital citizenship is a concept that relates respecting, educating, and protecting yourself and others while in an online world (Ribble, 2013). Increasingly, technology is integrated into our lives, and I believe that being a thoughtful digital citizen is as important as being a thoughtful citizen of the physical world. Since digital citizenship doesn’t start or end with mathematics-related technology, it will be my ongoing mission to model being a good digital citizen and to keep my eyes open for opportunities to promote critical thinking about digital citizenship in a global, online community.

Guiding Principles

Equitable and equal access: As the mathematics community works towards equity in the classroom, it is important to understand if and how the technologies used in the classroom advantage some populations of students over others. While equal access to classroom technologies is a given, it is imperative to also consider if the technologies promote equitable access to the mathematics; this is in line with ISTE Coaching Standard (CS) 5a. For example, there is a large body of research around whether or not the use of calculators and other mathematical software disadvantages the performance of female mathematics students. The literature shows mixed results: often males outperform females (e.g. Forgasz & Tan, 2010), sometimes females outperform males (e.g. Lyublinskaya & Tournaki, 2011), or no difference is found (e.g. Munger & Loyd, 1989). As a future mathematics instructor, it is my goal to know what research has been done on equity and the use of technology in the classroom, and to think carefully about the technologies I choose to use in my own classroom.

Ethical use: As calculators and computers become better at symbolic computation, educators must think carefully about how to address the use of tools like WolframAlpha and Photomath. Copying mathematical solutions from a source like WolframAlpha is not technically a copyright issue, but it does fall under the ethical issue of presenting unoriginal work as your own. James’ research shows that while many young people don’t consider the ethical issues around presenting unoriginal work as their own (instead, focusing primarily on the consequences of such actions), they are capable of considering the moral and ethical dilemmas, but “need support from adults in order to do so” (James & Jenkins, 2014, p. 71). As a mathematics instructor, it will be my goal to use this opportunity to engage students in a conversation around the ethical use of computation software, and to promote the value of the learning process over and above “the right answer;” this aligns with ISTE-CS 5b

Interactive-engagement: In physics, there are many names for instructional strategies that don’t look like “traditional” instruction; e.g., Hake’s (1998) term “interactive-engagement,” or Henderson and Dancy’s (2009) term “research-based instructional strategies” (RBIS). It is well documented in physics education that interactive-engagement methods and specific RBIS often lead to equal or higher gains in student achievement on conceptual understanding inventories of physics topics like the Force Concept Inventory and the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (Crouch & Mazur, 2001; Finkelstein & Pollock, 2005; Hake, 1998). Two of the most common RBIS, Peer Instruction and Just-in-Time Teaching (Henderson et al., 2009), make use of technology to reform their curriculum. Peer Instruction uses clicker questions to encourage students to work together on conceptual questions throughout lecture (Mazur, 1997), and Just-in-Time Teaching uses online pre-class reading assignments to allow the instructor to adjust the day’s lesson to meet the needs of the students (Novak, 2006). It will be my goal as a mathematics instructor to know what technologies and RBIS can be used to implement interactive-engagement instructional strategies in a mathematics classroom.

References

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69, 970-977. http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1374249

Finkelstein, N. D., & Pollock, S. J. (2005). Replicating and understanding successful innovations: Implementing tutorials in introductory physics. Physical Review ST Physics Education Research, 1(1), 1-13. http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.1.010101

Forgasz, H., & Tan, H. (2010). Does CAS use disadvantage girls in VCE mathematics? Australian Senior Mathematics Journal, 24(1), 25-36. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ891807

Hake, R. R. (1998). Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. American Journal of Physics, 66, 64-74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.18809

Henderson, C., & Dancy, M. H. (2009). Impact of physics education research on the teaching of introductory quantitative physics in the United States. Physical Review ST Physics Education Research, 5(2), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.020107

ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for coaches (2011). 5: Digital citizenship. ISTE standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

James, C., & Jenkins, H. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, new media, and the ethics gap. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lyublinskaya, I., & Tournaki, N. (2011). The effect of teaching and learning with Texas Instruments handheld devices on student achievement in algebra. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 30(1), 5-35. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ924358

Mazur, E. (1997). Peer instruction: A user’s manual. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Munger, G. F., & Loyd, B. H. (1989). Gender and attitudes toward computers and calculators: Their relationship to math performance. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 5(2), 167-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.2190/R1HL-LG9J-1YN5-AQ4N

Novak, G. (2006). What is Just-in-Time Teaching? Retrieved from http://jittdl.physics.iupui.edu/jitt/what.html

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of asynchronous learning networks, 17(1), 137-145. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379

Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2007). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 14(2), 50-71. Retrieved from http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/153/341