The Maestro Project also found that the whiteboards maintained students’ attention while stimulating a number of sensory routes, encouraging the reception of ideas or knowledge.
“Many teachers believed that [students] were able to make mathematical connections between concepts more effectively, because visual imagery improved knowledge retention,” the report stated.
Alec Swift at the Gillotts School was able to witness the transformation of his students throughout the study, as he taught them from year seven through year nine using MathsAlive curriculum resources almost exclusively.
“Their interest and enthusiasm has been caught, and many have expressed an interest in continuing maths beyond [the General Certificate of Secondary Education]. I am really pleased with the effects of MathsAlive and hope to continue using it,” he said. (The General Certificate of Secondary Education is an academic qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students ages 14 to 16 in the U.K.)
U.S. educators corroborated the results of the U.K. study, describing similar results from teaching with interactive whiteboards in their own classrooms.
Oliver Martin, an algebra teacher at Lehigh Senior High School in Florida, said he uses eInstruction’s INTERWRITE Mobi, an interactive whiteboard tablet from which content can be projected onto any surface, along with eInstruction’s CPS Pulse, a student response system that captures real-time assessment data to gauge student comprehension during instruction.
“I use [the Mobi] as a portable interactive whiteboard. Moving freely about the room, sitting at my desk, or sitting with a group of students, the entire room can view what is going on at that moment,” he said.
Martin noted that high school students are often reluctant to go to the board at the front of the classroom to work out math problems for the entire class—but they are willing to demonstrate a problem from their own desk, he said.
“My favorite and most pedagogically valuable tool is the Mobi used in conjunction with clickers. When I am completing a unit, I present the students with questions on the material we just covered. As the students complete the problems and enter their answers, the responses appear on the small LCD screen at the top of the Mobi tablet,” he said.
“I immediately know who understands the concept. I immediately know who didn’t get it, and I received this information quietly and unobtrusively, without asking for an embarrassing show of hands.”
Visual learning helps California students succeed
At the 2010 Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando earlier this year, the nonprofit MIND Research Institute discussed findings from a 2009 study suggesting that elementary students using the group’s ST Math software experienced dramatic learning gains.
Based on decades of neuroscience research at the University of California, Irvine, ST Math is a supplemental program for students in grades K-5 that also takes a visual approach to learning. The software taps into the brain’s innate “spatial temporal” reasoning ability to visualize and solve math concepts and problems, its makers say.
Students solve math problems presented as visual puzzles, before they are ever introduced to abstract math language and symbols. Through a carefully engineered sequence of fun-to-play software “games,” students work at their own pace to solve increasingly difficult problems that eventually require them to think multiple steps ahead in space and time—and they receive instant feedback about why a solution works or doesn’t.