The role and use of sketchpad as a modeling tool in secondary schools.
Over the last decade or two, there has been a discernible move to include modeling in the mathematics curricula in schools. This has come as the result of the demand that society is making on educational institutions to provide workers that are capable of relating theoretical knowledge to that of the real world. Successful industries are those that are able to effectively overcome the complexities of real world problems they encounter on a daily basis. This research study focused, to some extent, on the different definitions of modeling and some of the processes involved. Various examples are given to illustrate some of the methods employed in the process of modeling. More importantly, this work attempted to build on existing research and tested some of these ideas in a teaching environment. This was done in order to investigate the feasibility of introducing mathematical concepts within the context of dynamic geometry. Learners, who had not been introduced to specific concepts, such as concurrency, equidistant, and so on, were interviewed using Sketchpad and their responses were analyzed. The research focused on a few aspects. It attempted to determine whether learners were able to use modeling to solve a given real world problem. It also attempted to establish whether learners developed a better understanding when using Sketchpad. Several useful implications have evolved from this work that may influence both the teaching and learning of geometry in school. Initially these learners showed that, to a large extent, they could not relate mathematics to the real world and vice versa. But a pertinent finding of this research showed that, with guidance, these learners could apply themselves creatively. Furthermore it reaffirmed the idea that learners can be taught from the general to the more specific, enabling them to develop a better understanding of concepts being taught. Perhaps the findings and suggestions may be useful to pre-service and in-service educators, as well as curriculum developers.