The influence of contextual factors on assistive technology strategies for mathematics learning in students with physical impairments

  • Author / Creator
    Esquivel Ortiz, Paola Rocio
  • Performance of students with physical impairments in mathematics are often limited because of the use of hands-on strategies using manipulatives (e.g., blocks or Cuisenaire rods) to learn early concepts. Two assistive technology (AT) strategies have been used by students to handle manipulatives, Lego Mindstorms robots and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Students use alternative access methods to control a robot to move physical manipulatives, and ICTs to move on-screen simulations of manipulatives. However, the likelihood of abandonment of AT devices in the classroom is high; partly because contextual factors surrounding students have been ignored. This study attempted to explore the influence of contextual factors (personal and environmental) surrounding three students with physical impairments when they used the two AT strategies in mathematics lessons. The study used a qualitative approach in a holistic, multiple case study design. Data from observations, parents and teacher interviews, and participants’ satisfaction surveys were collected. The observations were performed during a baseline phase where a research-assistant/teacher controlled the manipulatives for each student while they directed him and in an intervention phase where the students used the two AT strategies randomly to control the manipulatives. Findings showed that personal factors, such as engagement, severity of the impairment, and past experiences using AT influenced how the students used the AT devices during the lessons. Regarding environmental factors, the devices increased students' independence, were easy to use, and parents and school staff wanted to implement them in student learning. On the other hand, the students required more time to complete the lessons with the robot, and some virtual manipulatives were not compatible with the students’ skills. Also, barriers such as individualized lessons, lack of technical knowledge, distractions in the environment, and funding issues, were reported.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.