Maths and Mobile Technologies
: Effects on Students’ Attitudes, Engagement and Achievement

  • Ma Khristin Fabian

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The ubiquity of mobile devices together with their potential to bridge classroom learning to real-world settings has added a new perspective to contextualising mathematics learning, but this needs further exploration. The aim of this thesis is to examine the effects of using mobile technologies on students’ attitudes, engagement and achievement in mathematics. The study starts with a systematic review of maths and mobile learning studies followed by three iterations of data collection. The three studies were mixed-methods studies guided by the micro, meso, macro (M3) Evaluation Framework. The studies included eight mobile learning sessions spread over three months covering topics on geometry and information handling. These sessions were conducted as collaborative learning activities in indoor and outdoor settings. Participants were Primary 6 and 7 students from three different schools in Scotland. In Study 1 (a single-group design, n=24), students had positive evaluations of mobile learning but some technical problems experienced lessened their initially positive views. There was a small effect in student self-confidence (ES=.20) and a significant positive difference between pre and post-test achievement scores. Breakdowns identified via the critical incident analysis in Study 1 informed the activity design of Study 2. In Study 2 (a quasi-experimental design, n=52), students had more positive perceptions about the use of mobile technology. The experimental group had higher gain scores on the maths test than the control group. In Study 3, a randomised controlled trial over six weeks (n=74), students also had positive evaluations of the mobile learning activities but this varied by gender. Analysis of the maths test scores with pre-test as covariate showed both groups had significantly improved their scores, but no significant treatment effect was found. For items relating to common student misconceptions on angles, students in the experimental group had significantly higher gains than the control group. The overall results from the three studies provide some evidence that students can have positive perceptions about the use of mobile technologies and that these can be effective in supporting students’ engagement and performance in mathematics, especially when learning takes place outside the classroom. It also showed that the success of a mobile learning intervention is dependent on various factors, such as student and teacher characteristics, stability of the technology and content compatibility, among other factors. There were several limitations including sample size, length of intervention, and programme fidelity. Implications for practice and future researchers are discussed.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKeith Topping (Supervisor) & Ian Barron (Supervisor)


  • Mobile learning
  • Mathematics education
  • Attitudes
  • Engagement

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