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The Focusing Effect of Technology: Implications for Teacher Education

, , San Diego State University, United States

Journal of Technology and Teacher Education Volume 10, Number 2, ISSN 1059-7069 Publisher: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education, Waynesville, NC USA


When technology is implemented in classrooms, students often form ideas that are unexpected and unwanted by the teachers and the designers of the technology. This article advances the notion of the focusing effect of technology as a way of systematically accounting for the role of technology in such situations. A focusing effect refers to the direction of students' attention toward certain properties of the subject matter domain over others, brought about by the use of particular technological tools. Technology focuses students' attention in ways that are often not anticipated in advance and can have unintended consequences for students' conceptions. Vignettes are presented from two research studies, one involving graphing calculators and one involving mathematics software called SimCalc Mathworlds. The research findings are synthesized and reinterpreted in order to illustrate and develop the notion of the focusing effect of technology. The significance of this construct lies in the connection that it affords between individual students' conceptions and the way technology is used in the instructional environment. Implications for teaching and for the preparation of teachers in the use of technology are discussed.


Lobato, J. & Ellis, A.B. (2002). The Focusing Effect of Technology: Implications for Teacher Education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10(2), 297-314. Norfolk, VA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. Retrieved March 27, 2019 from .


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