An Investigation Into Mobile Learning for High School Mathematics

An Investigation Into Mobile Learning for High School Mathematics

Vani Kalloo (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago) and Permanand Mohan (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2139-8.ch019
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This paper describes an investigation which was carried out to determine if mobile learning can be used to help high school students improve their performance in mathematics. The investigation was driven by the need to develop innovative learning solutions to eradicate the problem of low pass rates in mathematics in the Caribbean. A mobile learning application called MobileMath was developed targeting a subset of the mathematics curriculum. MobileMath offers the learner different learning strategies, game-based learning, and personalization. Two of the evaluation studies conducted are described in this paper. The first study focused on students using mobile learning on their own, while the second study explored the effects of teacher support while using mobile learning. A t-test analysis shows that there was a significant improvement in performance by students in both evaluation studies. The paper also compares the students’ performance with actual usage of the mobile learning application.
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This study was motivated by the problem of high failure rates in mathematics in the Caribbean. In the last six years the average pass rate of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) mathematics examination (an examination taken by most high school students in the English-speaking Caribbean) was 41%. This examination is made up of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Paper 1 is a multiple choice examination and Paper 2 is the more extensive examination requiring detailed answers and is thus a better indicator of high school mathematics proficiency. Figure 1 illustrates the percentage of students who passed Papers 1 and 2 in the last six years. It shows that for each year, the pass rate was much lower for Paper 2 than Paper 1. The average pass rate for Paper 2 is 22%.

Figure 1.

CXC mathematics results for paper 1 and 2 Source: Caribexams 2004

This data reveals that, on average over the last six years, almost 80% of the students in the Caribbean failed Paper 2 of the CXC mathematics examination and 60% were awarded passing grades. This is convincing evidence that there is a need for innovative learning tools for mathematics in the Caribbean (Caribexams, 2004).

The mobile phone is one of the most ubiquitous technologies today. It is appealing to a large sector of the population, especially young people. It is also affordable and the infrastructure is widely available throughout the Caribbean. Almost every person in Trinidad and Tobago owns at least one mobile phone. As part of the research, a survey was conducted in Trinidad and Tobago with over 120 high school students between the ages of 11 to 18 years. It revealed that 83% of them own their own mobile phones.

Wagner (2005) identified several reasons why mobile technology is such a commonly used technology in recent times. Wagner points out that there are more wireless network services, customers are demanding better mobile experiences such as a rich Internet experience, and people connect anytime and anywhere more than ever before. Therefore, since mobile devices are so commonly used, this study hypothesized that mobile learning (learning that occurs with the aid of a portable device) could be a viable solution to the problem of high failure rates in mathematics.

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