The TNI: "instrument of intelligibility of a reality" in mathematics and science

Technologies, including TNI, can help students move from the abstract to the concrete in science and mathematics. The thesis “Potential contributions of the interactive digital whiteboard in a problem situation requiring the passage from the abstract to the concrete in a context of mathematics, science and technology” is concerned with it.

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In her master's thesis from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR), teacher Josée Gagnon positively exposes the pedagogical potential of the TNI, particularly in mathematics and science, provided the teacher uses appropriate teaching strategies.

As the student progresses in the Quebec school system, the subject content becomes more complex. Among other things, in math and science classes, we often talk about the importance of dealing with abstraction.

Can technologies be useful in allowing students to move from the abstract to the concrete in these two subjects? Josée Gagnon, a math, science and technology teacher in Trois-Rivières, believes this is indeed the case. She dedicated her master's thesis about : Potential contributions of the interactive digital board in a problem situation requiring the transition from the abstract to the concrete in a context of mathematics, science and technology.

The theoretical framework

The author of the thesis comes to the conclusion that many, teachers and students alike, live on a daily basis: "the relationship between a certain reality and scientific theories appears (,,,) complex".

Could this have the result of explaining a certain lack of interest on the part of the pupils in the subjects? “It cannot be ruled out. There is always that, (to allow the passage from the abstract to the concrete,) a problem situation (…) must be open, complex and meaningful for the pupil. "It must be linked to real life situations and take up the virtues of active pedagogy, that is to say" having the action as a fundamental constituent ”in order to give some meaning to their perceptions and thoughts. In a way, this is what Ms. Gagnon's work is based on.

The strengths of the TNI

When it comes to the integration of TNI into mathematics pedagogy and science and technology courses, the tool greatly promotes:

  • Modeling, which promotes the use of models to interpret and predict scientific phenomena. However, the design of these models allows the student to construct and manipulate real and virtual objects.
  • Visualization, allowing the projection via the computer of numerous images or video clips. As a bonus, there is the possibility for the user to annotate directly on them and to interact with the concepts.
  • Simulation and experimentation allowing students to propose and validate possible solutions that they themselves have proposed in a perspective of learning by challenges. The student must make choices and he must validate them with different models.

In short, according to Ms. Gagnon, the TNI is "the instrument of intelligibility of a real ". He transforms intangible elements into visual, concrete and manipulable elements.

In classes

To write her thesis, Ms. Gagnon met with several teachers and visited the classes of ten of them, coming from different professional backgrounds. Each time she attended class, she carried out an analysis of the pedagogical use of the TNI in order to expose prospects for improvement allowing the passage from the abstract to the concrete in science and mathematics.

The teachers surveyed indicate that, since the arrival of TNI, the main changes made to their teaching strategies involve the addition of animations, demonstrations, interactive activities and the presentation of videos from the tool. They therefore estimate these beneficial changes for students. Ms. Gagnon notes that if this is a good start, these different integrations can be perfected to facilitate the transition from the abstract to the concrete in these subjects.

The author thus positively exposes the pedagogical potential of TNI, provided that the teacher uses adapted teaching strategies. Josée Gagnon also believes that the TNI is a real advantage in teaching, but that it can also lead to the contrary if the teacher uses it statically.

In conclusion, she recalled that the professional development of teachers in the use of a technological tool in pedagogy must be privileged. She talks about a commitment in the improvement. These two words clearly explain, if we read between the lines, that the repercussions of continuing education operate in the classroom, favorably influencing student learning.

This thesis shares the reflections of the teachers surveyed regarding the importance of TNI and the obstacles they encounter during integration. For many, it could be the trigger for professional thinking.

To go further, you can also consult the book The interactive digital board: When researchers and practitioners unite to identify avenues for action, published by the Presses of the University of Quebec.

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About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in social studies education (1999), a master's degree in history education (2003), a master's degree in education management (2013) and a doctorate in education (2022). He specializes in school-based change management and educational leadership. He is also interested in the 21st century competencies to be developed in education. He is a principal in a public high school and gives conferences on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in schools and the professionalization of teaching. He has participated in educational expeditions in France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book "Le changement en milieu scolaire québécois" with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the 21st century school with the same publisher. He is a frequent contributor to L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and principals as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement. He is a recipient of the Régent-Fortin 2022 scholarship awarded by ADERAE for the significant contribution of his doctoral studies to the development of practice and knowledge in educational administration.

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