Perturbing practices: a case study of the effects of virtual manipulatives as novel didactic objects on rational function instruction
The advancement of technology has substantively changed the practices of numerous professions, including teaching. When an instructor first adopts a new technology, established classroom practices are perturbed. These perturbations can have positive and negative, large or small, and long- or short-term effects on instructors’ abilities to teach mathematical concepts with the new technology. Therefore, in order to better understand teaching with technology, we need to take a closer look at the adoption of new technology in a mathematics classroom. Using interviews and classroom observations, I explored perturbations in mathematical classroom practices as an instructor implemented virtual manipulatives as novel didactic objects in rational function instruction. In particular, the instructor used didactic objects that were designed to lay the foundation for developing a conceptual understanding of rational functions through the coordination of relative size of the value of the numerator in terms of the value of the denominator. The results are organized according to a taxonomy that captures leader actions, communication, expectations of technology, roles, timing, student engagement, and mathematical conceptions.