ETEC 533: Technology in the Mathematics and Science Classroom


How do people learn mathematics and science?
How can we teach these subjects with digital technologies?
What does research say about these digital technologies in science and math classrooms?

This advanced graduate course aims to address contemporary, international research on how people teach and learn mathematics and science with digital technologies. There have been recent advancements in both social science, cognitive psychology and computing that have had an impact on our understanding of how people learn science and math. As well, ongoing research on math and science education, teacher practice, curriculum studies, and pedagogy is uncovering the complexity associated with learning and teaching within dynamic learning environments. The integration of three disciplines: cognitive psychology, computer science, and education, provides us with a framework to study the cognitive and social affordances of technology in the mathematics and science classroom.

This framework can be used to understand the (re) emergence of several genres in teaching and learning, including: knowledge representation, knowledge diffusion, learning-on-demand, and embodiment. Each is being amplified and augmented with technological advancements, such as dynamic visualization tools, computer simulations, collaboratories, networked databases, hand-held devices, and virtual reality, and evidence of their application to educational contexts are growing.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • frame issues in math or science education by utilizing cases and contemporary research;
  • demonstrate a situated understanding of technology in mathematics or science learning environments, drawing upon interviews in authentic school contexts and prior experiences as sources of initial insight;
  • synthesize several different pedagogical designs by examining historically substantive technology-enhanced science and math learning projects;
  • consider the implications digital technology has for students, teaching practice, curriculum development, and educational contexts, through analyses of many technology-enhanced learning experiences;
  • reflect upon your learning pathways throughout the course;
  • extend readings and resources available in the course by making your own applications and connections to personal inquiries and contexts.


In this course, we will analyze video case studies, conduct field-based interviews, critique primary and secondary research papers in the field, examine historically substantive technology-enhanced science and math learning projects, and interact with dynamic information visualization tools, online networked communities, and multisensory immersive environments. Course activities and assignments will enable students to build upon and share informed and grounded positions on contemporary issues related to technology in the mathematics and science classroom and create pedagogical designs for math or science technology-enhanced learning experiences.

You will focus on digital technologies for major course assignments. It is a premise of the course that learning is an individual, social, and contextualized process. You can anticipate individual and group assignments, and you will be expected to appreciate and learn from diverse math and science technology-enhanced learning contexts that are present within the course. You will be asked to pedagogically design a technology enhanced learning environment for math or science, driven by theories of learning and knowledge of teacher practice and policy.

Technology in the mathematics and science classroom will have some focus on math projects and others on science as they appear in the literature, but generally, as a group, we will endeavor to integrate the two domains in an interdisciplinary fashion. You will be expected to study both science and math related projects and consider how both math and science can be integrated within a single technology-enhanced learning environment.

Readings & Resources

A variety of readings and resources will be available online through the course website. There are no required textbooks in the course, however three texts below are recommended.

  • The first text contains overviews of some of major research studies in the field, and is available as an eBook via the UBC Library.
  • The second text is a practical and comprehensive book for teachers and administrators interested in the integration of educational technology.
  • The third text is published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and represents current research on technologies such as calculators, geometry software, PDAs, the Internet, and webquests and k-16 children learning math, with a focus on young children.

Readings will not be recommended or assigned from either of these texts in the course, however, they represent a possible choice of resources if you are interested. It is your option to seek out or purchase these additional texts; they are not required for this course.

Also, two texts below may be of some additional interest (the first is also available as an eBook via the UBC Library):

Assignments & Assessment

There are two major assignments plus an expectation of online participation in the ETEC533 learning community.

  • Major Assignment 1: Framing a STEM issue (25%)

The aim of this assignment is to help you to understand a salient issue in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education from a number of perspectives, including perspectives offered by empirical research. You will construct an annotated bibliography which offers a coherent and concise approach to present a case or issue to others based on research.

  • Major Assignment 2: Legacy of learning project (45%)

For this assignment, there are two options. Both options will allow you to reflect on what you have learned, convey it, and to create something new as a legacy of your learning.

  1. The first option is to produce an Inquiry e-folio of your reflections. There are ongoing assignments to blog throughout the course and a final synthesis required.
  2. The second option is to design a Technology-Enhanced Learning Experience (TELE). The TELE can be designed as a lesson for students or as a professional development experience for STEM educators. This assignment will involve the submission of a final project. More information about each option, the e-folio or TELE, is below.
  • Participation in the learning community (30%)

In this course, you will also be assessed on your participation. As a member or citizen of an online learning community, your regular presence is vital for your learning and key to the success of the learning community. Participation entails in-depth reading, being prepared and on time with contributions (not days in advance of nor past the due date), completing lesson activities, and working in collaboration with other course members to discuss the week’s content and software. There should be evidence of your regular presence and engagement with all course activities. We aim to have discussions characterized by professionalism, expertise, and scholarship.

Minor course topic, activity, reading/resource and assignment details may change from year to year.