Learning, mathematics and technology: the view from biology

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Woolcott, G 2010, 'Learning, mathematics and technology: the view from biology', in L Gómez Chova, D Martí Belenguer & I Candel Torres (eds), Proceedings of EDULEARN10 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Barcelona, Spain, 5-7 July, IATED, Barcelona, Spain, pp. 532-537. ISBN: 9788461393862


This paper examines mathematics and technology in the context of human cultural or knowledge accumulation considered as an aspect of dealing with novel information, or problem solving. In this context learning and memory are primarily involved in dealing with novel information through the combination of input information and information stored as long-term memory. Mathematics, in dealing with novel information, appears to utilise remembered information in a very selective and fluctuating way, in accordance with knowledge requirements of the prevailing culture and with historical practice. Technology has become an important component of modern educational practice, and of mathematics practice specifically, partly because technology can be used to store information externally to human long-term memory and can be used also to impart instruction, but also because students can be engaged through the technological devices that they use for social communication. Modern studies in cognitive psychology in combination with integrative biology offer a detailed understanding of the processes involved in human learning and memory, including the processes involved in learning mathematics knowledge and skills. Such studies have led to the development of frameworks for comparing educational philosophies and for assessing instructional design, and these frameworks offer the potential to examine the role of technology in human learning and memory and to examine mathematics education.