ERIC Identifier: ED463951
Publication Date: 2000-12-00
Author: Ozgun-Koca, S. Asli
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Using Spreadsheets in Mathematics Education. ERIC Digest.
"Spreadsheets build an ideal bridge between arithmetic and algebra and allow
the student free movement between the two worlds. Students look for patterns,
construct algebraic expressions, generalize concepts, justify conjectures, and
establish the equivalence of two models as intrinsic and meaningful needs rather
than as arbitrary requirements posed by the teacher." (Friedlander, 1998, p.
Electronic spreadsheets have been created and used mainly as tools for
mathematical and statistical calculations, as numerical or textual data can be
inserted into their columns and rows (http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/
~kissane/spreadsheets.htm). So, being able to manage spreadsheets has become one
of the skills sought for anybody in this technologically enhanced millennium.
Therefore, spreadsheets have become an important part of many different
curriculums at different levels of education. Moreover, they have been used in
education, especially mathematics education, as a tool in helping students
understand mathematical concepts such as plotting and exploring functions and
patterns, exploring probability and statistics, mathematical modeling, and
geometric transformations (http://www.freshpond
.net/treasures/math/spreadsheet/default.htm). Relationships among different
types of representations such as tables, equations and graphs are more easily
comprehendible when all representations are visible at once and linked to each
other, i.e. when one makes a change in one representation, corresponding changes
in other representations are offered by the program. Moreover, spreadsheets
allow students to focus on the mathematical reasoning by freeing them from the
burden of calculations and algebraic manipulations.
Educational research supports the use of spreadsheets both in K-12 and
teacher education and in professional development. Abramovich and Nabors (1997)
describe how using spreadsheets helped seventh grade algebra students develop
problem-solving skills. Molyneux-Hodgson et. al (1999) states that the results
of their study "suggest the possibility of enhancing students' capability to
shift between a wider range of representations using the modeling approach
embedded in computer environments such as a spreadsheet" (p.1). Dudgale (1994)
reports a project that involved experienced K-12 teachers in mathematical
modeling and problem solving using spreadsheets and concludes that teachers
developed models that exhibited a wide variety of mathematics topics and
approaches in different grade levels.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) suggests that
"students in grades 3-5 should also become familiar with technological tools
such as dynamic geometry software and spreadsheets. They should learn to set up
a simple spreadsheet and use it to pose and solve problems, examine data, and
investigate patterns" (p. 207). The use of spreadsheets for higher grade levels
is also advocated by NCTM (2000): "The expanded class of functions available to
high school students for mathematical modeling should provide them with a
versatile and powerful means for analyzing and describing their world. With
utilities for symbol manipulation, graphing, and curve fitting and with
programmable software and spreadsheets to represent iterative processes,
students can model and analyze a wide range of phenomena" (p. 297). NCTM
published two books on the use of spreadsheets:
To Use the Spreadsheet as a Tool in the Secondary School Mathematics Classroom."
[Second Edition (for Windows and Macintosh Operating Systems)] by William J
This book and accompanying two computer disks, one for Windows and one for
Macintosh Operating Systems, presents 30 activities illustrating how computer
spreadsheets can be used in the secondary school mathematics classroom.
Activities in Middle School Mathematics" by John Russell.
This book creates a problem-solving environment for middle grade students
using the computerized spreadsheet. It offers instructional ideas and activities
on number patterns, basic arithmetic, word problems, percents and probability.
WORLD WIDE WEB RESOURCES ON SPREADSHEETS IN MATHEMATICS
Spreadsheets, Mathematics, Science, and Statistics Education by
Erich Neuwirth http://sunsite.univie.ac.at/Spreadsite/spreaded.html Presents
information about spreadsheets with an emphasis on mathematics and statistics
education. Includes spreadsheets in education; recommended books; papers about
spreadsheets in scientific journals and books; example spreadsheets and projects
(mostly excel 5.0); and further resources for spreadsheets in education on the
Spreadsheets in the Math Class
NCTM's position statements on technology, the definition of and benefits of
using a spreadsheet, data analysis ideas from the real world, and sample
activities to introduce spreadsheets to students.
Spreadsheet Projects for the Middle School Math Curriculum
http://www.parktudor.pvt.k12.in.us/Sosenke/nctm2000.htm Lists the advantages of
the spreadsheets and stages in working with spreadsheets. Presents a seventh
grade spreadsheet unit, independent short projects, interdisciplinary projects,
and references on the use of spreadsheets in the mathematics classroom.
Resources for Mathematics Educators: Spreadsheets in Mathematics
http://www.freshpond.net/treasures/math/spreadsheet/default.htm Discusses the
benefits of using spreadsheets in mathematics teaching and some of the
particular areas in which spreadsheets can be useful in teaching and learning
math. Provides a list of web sites that provide information on using
spreadsheets in mathematics classrooms.
Introduction to Math and Spreadsheets
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/sum95/math_and/spreadsheets/intro.html Provides a
variety of math exercises utilizing spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets in Mathematics
http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/Allison/Spreadsheet%20home%20page Discusses the
reasons for using spreadsheets in math classrooms. Provides information on how
to create a spreadsheet, enter data, copy cells and formulas, and graph.
Presents problem sets for elementary, middle, and high school mathematics.
The Use of Spreadsheets in Mathematics Teaching
http://www.geocities.com/teddy_mutadi/essay_EME717.html This essay discusses the
possible application of spreadsheets in an Indonesian curriculum setting. It
also highlights the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing spreadsheets in
Spreadsheet-Based Tool Kit For Modeling Concepts In Elementary Number Theory
by Sergei Abramovich and Andrew Brantlinger
http://forum.swarthmore.edu/clime/961.html This paper presents pedagogical ideas
concerning the use of a spreadsheet- based tool kit for modeling several
structures and concepts in elementary number theory such as Pythagorean triples,
sums of perfect powers, multiple representations of integers, the Euclidean
algorithm, and the Euler phi-function.
Abramovich, S. and Nabors, W. (1997).
Spreadsheets as generators of new meanings in middle school algebra. "Computers
in the Schools," 13(1-2), 13-25.
Dugdale, S. (1994). K-12 teachers' use of spreadsheet for mathematical
modeling and problem solving. "Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science
Teaching," 13(1), 43-68.
Friedlander, Alex (1998). An EXCELlent bridge to algebra. "Mathematics
Teacher," 91(50), 382-383 .
Molyneux-Hodgson, S.; Rojano, T.; Sutherland, R.; and Ursini, S. (1999).
Mathematical modeling: The interaction of culture and practice. "Educational
Studies in Mathematics," 39(1-3), 167-183.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). "Principles and
standards for school mathematics." Reston, VA: Author.
To find more resources on this topic, search the ERIC database online
(http://ericir.syr.edu/Eric/) and use various combinations of the following
1: spreadsheets, tables (data)
2: mathematics, mathematics activities, mathematics education, mathematics
instruction, teaching methods
3: elementary education, secondary education, elementary secondary education,
postsecondary education, adult education