Old habits die hard: Overcoming uncertainty to facilitate contemporary learning outcomes
AuthorO'Bryan, Marguerite Joyce
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Marguerite Joyce O'Bryan
This qualitative study sought to understand mathematics teachers’ use of digital technology in their classroom lessons, to investigate the pedagogical advantages that ensued, and to contribute to research knowledge about the facilitating factors and obstructions to the uptake of digital technology in the mathematics classroom. When this study commenced in 2012, a prevailing perspective in the area of digital integration for educational purposes influenced the direction of the study to focus on mathematics teacher beliefs behind digital uses. “Teachers’ own beliefs and attitudes about the relevance of technology to students’ learning were perceived as having the biggest impact on their success” (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012). The cultural pressure on teachers to include digital technology usage came from many directions: government authority, the school, colleagues, parents, and students. In order to represent teacher beliefs and their subjective responses to the social pressure to change, the study’s complex theoretical framework was built from Bourdieu’s (1977) field theory and the psychology of risk-taking. Field theory accounted for the education environment including its purposes and rewards, and the cultural norms and dispositions of its inhabitants. The psychology of risk-taking accounted for the uncertainty that change engendered in teachers’ psyches and their individual responses to digital innovations. After plodding along in an ever-evolving digital, educational, and social environment and collecting data that supported previous research but not especially new ideas, the study was diverted by recent neuropsychology findings. Evidence emerged to support the notion that the introduction of digital innovation to a regular mathematics lesson gave rise to a conflict between teacher habitual and goal-directed behaviours. The cognitive conflict was mediated by certainty. Innovations were vulnerable to being overrun by regular classroom practices that provided comfortable surety for the teacher. Factors that allowed the teacher to avoid, or take control of, the cognitive conflict were identified. Findings raised issues for current mathematics pedagogical practices and mathematics performance. Results are applicable to educational innovation in general and not limited to mathematics pedagogical change due to the introduction of digital innovation.
KeywordsMathematics education; Digital technology; Uncertainty; Habitual behaviour; Goal-directed behaviour
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References