University of Oregon

How do mobile environments affect the learning and instruction of mathematics?


Mathematics remains a difficult and intimidating subject for many students - a trend that is consistent across age, grade level, nationality, and culture.  Mobile technology is emerging as a promising way to re-engage students with math curriculum.

Current literature describes applications for mobile technologies in math that are presently being used across the globe. Examples include using SMS to provide direct math tutoring, using personal mobile devices to provide individualized instruction and feedback, providing mobile devices to increase educational access in underserved communities, using mobile augmented reality apps to engage with math out of the classroom, and numerous game-like apps designed to teach specific math skills. Despite the wide variety in uses, some common themes can be seen.  Mobile applications shown to increase math learning provide students one or more of the following: learning scaffolds in the form of hints or additional information in real-time, instant performance feedback, abundant practice opportunities, connection between math concepts and real tasks, and entertainment value. Mobile technology use can also help bolster student confidence in math by providing a game-like environment in which some level of failure is acceptable and expected, and perseverance is rewarded.  The potential educational benefits of these technologies are well supported, however researchers have also raised some important questions: In what situations are mobile devices not helpful? How significant a role should mobile technology play? Are these technologies best used to support classroom teaching, or vice versa?  

Implementation Research:

Bull, P. H., & McCormick, C. (2011). Mobile learning: Enhancing a pre-algebra course at a community college with text messaging. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 8(1), 25–36.

Daher, W., & Baya’a, N. (2011). Characteristics of middle school students learning actions in outdoor mathematical activities with the cellular phone. Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications, First published online November 28, 2011, Online. doi:10.1093/teamat/hrr018

Franklin, T., & Peng, L.-W. (2008). Mobile math: Math educators and students engage in mobile learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 20(2), 69–80. doi:10.1007/s12528-008-9005-0

Kalloo, V., & Mohan, P. (2012). MobileMath: An innovative solution to the problem of poor mathematics performance in the Caribbean. Caribbean Teaching Scholar, 2(1), 5–18.

Kim, P., Buckner, E., Kim, H., Makany, T., Taleja, N., & Parikh, V. (2012). A comparative analysis of a game-based mobile learning model in low-socioeconomic communities of India. International Journal of Educational Development, 32(2), 329–340. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2011.05.008

Kalloo, V., & Mohan, P. (2011). Correlation between student performance and use of an mLearning application for high school mathematics. Proceedings of the 11th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (pp. 174–178). Presented at the ICALT  ’11, Athens, GA: IEEE. doi:10.1109/ICALT.2011.57


de Lima, L., de Barros Filho, M., Ribeiro, J. W., de Castro Andrade, R. M., Viana, W., & Junior, A. J. M. L. (2011). Guidelines for the development and use of m-learning applications in mathematics. IEEE Multidisciplinary Engineering Education Magazine, 6(2), 1–12.

Matthee, M., & Liebenberg, J. (Lieb). (2007). Mathematics on the move: Supporting mathematics learners through mobile technology in South Africa. Conference Proceedings - Long and Short Papers (pp. 149–154). Presented at the mLearn 2007, Melbourne. Retrieved from

Yerushalmy, M., & Botzer, G. (2011). Guiding mathematical inquiry in mobile settings. In O. Zaslavsky & P. Sullivan (Eds.), Constructing knowledge for teaching secondary mathematics: Tasks to enhance prospective and practicing teacher learning , Mathematics Teacher Education (Vol. 6, pp. 191–209). New York, NY; London, UK: Springer. Retrieved from,38

Product Research or Descriptions:

Botha, A., & Butgereit, L. (2012). Dr. Math: A mobile scaffolding environment. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 4(2), 15–29. doi:10.4018/jmbl.2012040102

Moorefield-Lang, H., & Evans, M. A. (2011). Rhythmatical: A game to combine music and mathematics for mobile devices. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 14(1-2), 46–51. doi:10.1080/10588167.2011.571171

Project Tomorrow. (2010). Project K-Nect evaluation report July 2010: Students leverage the power of mobile devices through the Project K-Nect Mobile Learning Initiative in Onslow County (Evaluation) (p. 5). Project Tomorrow, Project K-Nect.

Riconscente, M. (2012). Mobile learning game improves 5th graders’ fractions knowledge and attitudes (p. 46). Los Angeles, CA: GameDesk Institute. Retrieved from

Turtiainen, E., Blignaut, S., Els, C., Laine, T. H., & Sutinen, E. (2009). Story-based UFractions mobile game in South Africa: Contextualization process and multidimensional playing experiences. Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Story-Telling and Educational Games. Presented at the STEG’09, Aachen, GER: CEUR.

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