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3.1. What Scientific digital tools/platforms are being used for primary education?

In this Module we first describe theoretical rationales for learning with interactive digital tools how different types of interactive digital tools—and their corresponding characteristics—may enhance student learning. In addition, we give an overview of prior research on digital tool use within mathematics and science learning as well as the influence of contextual factors on computer-supported student learning.

3.1.1. Learning with interactive digital tools

3.1.2. How the use of digital tools can enhance mathematics & sceince learning

Several studies show that the use of digital tools can especially enhance learning and teaching within technology-related subjects such as mathematics, physics, biology, or chemistry. We illustrate the potential of digital tools for the teaching and learning in these subjects with a focus on mathematics, exemplarily, bearing in mind that there is a certain degree of distinctiveness in each of these domains regarding learning as well as teaching processes. 

The use of digital tools can support skills and strategies that are highly relevant in the scientific and mathematical content area, such as real-world problem solving or visualizing complex relationships. It can support learning through interactive and scaffolded activities. In addition, manipulating representations in computer simulations can support model-based learning—as students may un- derstand mathematics and science concepts more elaborately because they observe direct consequences of the changes they make. Furthermore, it can help students overcome cognitive constraints originating from various misconceptions In mathematics, for instance, dynamic tools such as GeoGebra enable students to learn abstract subjects, such as geometry, algebra and calculus in an interactive and explorative manner.

Such dynamic mathematical tools—as well as computer algebra systems which are still used remarkably low in schools can support mathematical learning, such as “understanding algebraic reasoning, finding patterns, and reflecting on the solution process”. 

Regarding more general features, adaptive digital tools allow students to receive content according to their individual learning style, which can especially be fruitful when students learn new and abstract mathematical concepts. In addition, digital tools can also provide opportunities for students to practice content knowledge acquired before, which is important—for example—for fostering mathematical principles at a more basic level. By providing individual feedback to the learner immediately, specific tools aim to avoid developing typical misconceptions which are often a problem in learning and science. 

With a focus on not mere cognitive, but affective learning outcomes, there is evidence that the use of digital tools in teaching and learning mathematics can increase student motivation. One commonly used argument for this positive effect is derived from self-determination theory: the opportunity to make own choices during the learning process and experiencing tasks as challenging but not overly complicated can be achieved via implementing educational features—such as feedback, pacing, and guided activity - into digital tools. 

Schoolchildren and teacher in science class performing experiment

3.1.3. Overall effects of using digital tools within mathematics and science learning

In this Module we first describe theoretical rationales for learning with interactive digital tools how different types of interactive digital tools—and their corresponding characteristics—may enhance student learning. In addition, we give an overview of prior research on digital tool use within mathematics and science learning as well as the influence of contextual factors on computer-supported student learning.

3.1.4. Scientific Digital Tools for primary education