Patterns of Interaction and Mathematical Thinking of High School Students in Classroom Environments that Include Use of JAVA-based, Curriculum-Embedded Software

Karen L. Fonkert, Western Michigan University


This study analyzes the nature of student interaction and discourse in an environment that includes the use of Java-based, curriculum-embedded mathematical software. The software CPMP-Tools was designed as part of the development of the second edition of the Core-Plus Mathematics curriculum. The use of the software on laptop computers in small groups of students, and in whole-class interactive lessons with a single computer at the front of the classroom was explored. Data were collected through observations, interviews, and selected items from the students’ regular assessments. During the observations, classroom discussion was audio-taped and videotaped, and field notes were taken. The interviews of students and teachers were audio and/or videotaped. The analysis of this data revealed that the students engaged in inquiry the majority of the time while they were using CPMP-Tools in small groups. Building on other students’ ideas was the second most frequent interaction pattern in that setting. During the whole-class interactive lessons with a single computer, the two most frequently found interaction patterns were teacher explain and giving new ideas. The most frequently occurring level of mathematical thinking found in both types of classroom environments using CPMP-Tools was the second-highest level in the framework—Constructing Synthesizing. Therefore, the students were habitually engaged in productive interaction patterns and high levels of mathematical thinking while using the curriculum-embedded software. The dynamic nature and strategic use of colorful visuals used in CPMP-Tools facilitated students’ interactions and high levels of mathematical thinking.