Digital Literacies in Mathematics

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BYU Mathematics Education Graduate Coordinator Dr. Daniel Siebert co-authored the article “Digital Mathematics Literacies,” which was published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in March 2017. The paper provides recommendations of best practices for teaching digital literacies in mathematics classrooms.

The American Library Association defines digital literacy as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, which requires both cognitive and technical skills. Digital literacy varies across disciplines, and should not be generalized.

“A lot of times, literacy educators think these general reading and literacy skills should apply across all different subject areas, and my argument is that when you look at literacy in mathematics, it is very different than literacy in other fields,” said Dr. Siebert.

The article is written for literacy educators to help them see how addressing digital literacies in mathematics differs from addressing general digital literacy.

Certain types of digital literacies are necessary for students to learn in order to do mathematics. For example, students need to be able to use a calculator to graph functions, read points on the graph, and find out where functions intersect.

“These are some specific examples of digital mathematics literacies of using a calculator as a learning tool, which is different than what you would expect if you were using an online presentation program to put up slides and do a slideshow,” Siebert said.

The article was based on research Siebert has done in the past. The authors compared common digital literacies to the digital literacies used to learn mathematics, and identified specific strategies teachers can use in mathematics classes to support students’ mathematical learning through the use of digital tools.

The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy is a peer-reviewed academic journal published six times a year on behalf of the International Literacy Association. Each issue offers practical, classroom-tested ideas grounded in research and theory.