The international community in the learning sciences has proven that in the information society the keys for learning are found in interaction (Bruner, 1996; Vygotsky, 1978), communication (Cazden, 2001; Mercer, 2000; Racionero & Padrós, 2010; Vygotsky, 1962; Wells, 1999; Wells & Mejía Arauz, 2006) and the community (Rogoff & Gardner, 1999). The scientific literature also provides multiple evidences that interactive and dialogic settings promote the acquisition of mathematical knowledge, as in these contexts students can explore, exchange, elaborate and justify ideas that allow build together the mathematic concepts they are learning, and have a better understanding of the mathematic concepts (Kong, 2011; Oortwijn et al., 2008). School learning environments should be therefore transformed according to that scientific evidence, becoming more interactive.
In addition, different studies have demonstrated that students have many mathematical competencies and use them in their everyday life, but often they do not transfer them to problem solving at school (Nunes, Carraher & Schliemann, 1985), leading to school failure. One cause of this problemis the decontextualized language of the school discourse, which leads to an “encapsulation” of the school knowledge (Engeström, 1996). Besides, research has demonstrated the importance of family-school partnerships to improve children’s learning of mathematics (Atweh, Forgasz & Nebres, 2001). Building bridges between the abstract scientific-technical discourse of the text books and the discourse of the students’ everyday life can facilitate an applied dimension of the school knowledge and a deeper understanding of the mathematics and science contents. The creation of dialogue-based learning situations and the participation of students’ relatives and other adults from the community –including those with no academic background and those with a migrant background or from cultural minorities– can contribute to “desencapsulate” mathematics knowledge, put it in context and facilitate students’ comprehension.
Research has also indicated that technology supports learning as far as it is used as tool for learning the content knowledge (MacArthur Foundation, n.d.). Different studies have analysed how digital resources help improve the learning of mathematics, showing for instance that they contribute to the learning of particular concepts (Riconscente, 2013), to increase peer interaction and the number and type of learning opportunities (Mercer & Higgins, 2013), and to increase interest and motivation among the students (Taylor, Harlow & Forret, 2010). Overall, studies with positive results in the use of technology for the learning of mathematics emphasise the importance of participative contexts where students can dialogue with peers, teachers and community members in an egalitarian and collaborative environment.
Interactive Groups (IG) (INCLUD-ED Consortium, 2009) are one concrete type of interactive classrooms that is being conducted in more than 200 schools in Europe. In IG students work in small and diverse groups where they help each other solve curricular activities using dialogue as the main means, and receive support from an adult from the school and/or the community who is charge of promoting supportive interaction among peers. In IG technology is often used as a tool for a deeper understanding of the curriculum. A strong body of research has documented the positive outcomes in academic achievement and coexistence (Flecha & Soler, 2013; Valls & Kyriakides, 2013) produced by this innovative learning environment, and has found benefits for teaching mathematics (Díez-Palomar & Cabré, 2015; García-Carrión & Díez Palomar, 2015).
This paper, which is based on the RecerCaixa programme funded project MSAT for all. Mathematics, Science and Technology for all: Evidences based on learning environments of the 21st century, aims at identifying some specific elements of successof IG that lead to high academic achievement for all students in mathematics and science, and identify the impact that the use of technology has in such academic achievement.
Atweh, B., Forgasz, H., Nebres, B. (eds). (2001). Sociocultural research on mathematics education: An international perspective, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, Mahwah NJ USA Bruner, J. (1996). The culture of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Cazden, C. B. (2001). Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning (2nd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Díez-Palomar, J. & Cabré, J. (2015). Using dialogic talk to teach mathematics: the case of interactive groups. ZDM Mathematics Education 47(7), p. 1299-1312. doi:10.1007/s11858-015-0728-x Engeström, Y. (1996). Non scolae sed vitae discimus: Toward overcoming the encapsulation of school learn-ing. In Daniels H. (Ed.). An introduction to Vygotsky. (pp. 151-170). London and New York: Routledge. Flecha, R. & Soler, M. (2013). Turning difficulties into possibilities: engaging Roma families and students in school through dialogic learning. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43(4),p. 451-465. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2013.819068 García-Carrión, R., & Díez-Palomar, J. (2015). Learning communities: Pathways for educational success and social transformation through interactive groups in mathematics. European Educational Research Journal, 14(2), 151-166 Gómez, A., Puigvert, L., & Flecha, R. (2011). Critical communicative methodology: Informing real social transformation through research. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(3), 235-245. INCLUD-ED Consortium. (2009). Actions for success in schools in Europe. Brussels: European Commission. MacArthur Foundation. (n.d.). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture. Media education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from: https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF Mercer, N. (2000). Words and minds: How we use language to think together. London; New York:Routledge Nunes, T., Carraher, D.W., Schliemann, A.D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3, 21-29. Racionero, S., & Padrós, M. (2010). The dialogic turn in educational psychology. Journal of Psychodidactics, 15(2), 143-162. Rogoff, B., & Gardner, W. (1999). Adult guidance of cognitive development. In Rogoff, B., & Lave, J. (Ed.), Everyday cognition. Development in social context (pp. 95-116). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Valls, R. & Kyriakides, L. (2013). The power of interactive groups: how diversity of adults volunteering in classroom groups can promote inclusion and success for children of vulnerable minority ethnic populations. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43(1), p. 17-33. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2012.749213 Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press Massachusetts Institute of Technolo-gy. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. New York: Cambridge University Press. Wells, G., & Mejía Arauz, R. (2006). Dialogue in the classroom. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(3), 379-428.
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