Mathematics in the Digital Age: Reframing learning opportunities for disadvantaged Indigenous and rural students

Led by Professor Tom Lowrie in partnership with Professor Robyn Jorgensen, this $170 000 Australian Research Council Discovery project commenced in 2009 and ran for three years. The project sought to address the dramatic performance discrepancies that exist in the mathematical outcomes of Australia’s most disadvantaged students (Indigenous students and those living in remote areas). It is not that these learners are cognitively inferior, but due to their life circumstances, the opportunities to immerse themselves in a numerate culture are limited. The project confronted this issue by developing teaching-learning activities that allow disadvantaged students to be empowered with new forms of mathematical thinking which are embedded in digital technologies.

The first phase of the study documented students’ use of games technologies in out-of-school settings, while the second phase considered how games might be implicated in a digital divide. These two phases described student interest in game playing and outlined learning behaviours taking place as students engaged with specific technologies. The third phase of the study included an experimental design to measure the impact and affect of game technologies on students’ mathematics (and numeracy) outcomes.