Students’ Attention when Using Touchscreens and Pen Tablets in a Mathematics Classroom

Cheng-Huan Chen, Chiung-Hui Chiu, Chia-Ping Lin, Ying-Chun Chou
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 16  •  2017  •  pp. 091-106
Aim/Purpose: The present study investigated and compared students’ attention in terms of time-on-task and number of distractors between using a touchscreen and a pen tablet in mathematical problem-solving activities with virtual manipulatives.

Background: Although there is an increasing use of these input devices in educational practice, little research has focused on assessing student attention while using touchscreens or pen tablets in a mathematics classroom.

Methodology: A qualitative exploration was conducted in a public elementary school in New Taipei, Taiwan. Six fifth-grade students participated in the activities. Video recordings of the activities and the students’ actions were analyzed.

Findings: The results showed that students in the activity using touchscreens maintained greater attention and, thus, had more time-on-task and fewer distractors than those in the activity using pen tablets.

Recommendations for Practitioners: School teachers could employ touchscreens in mathematics classrooms to support activities that focus on students’ manipulations in relation to the attention paid to the learning content.

Recommendation for Researchers: The findings enhance our understanding of the input devices used in educational practice and provide a basis for further research.

Impact on Society: The findings may also shed light on the human-technology interaction process involved in using pen and touch technology conditions.

Future Research: Activities similar to those reported here should be conducted using more participants. In addition, it is important to understand how students with different levels of mathematics achievement use the devices in the activities.
attention, touchscreen, pen tablet, mathematical problem solving, virtual manipulatives, human-technology interaction
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