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Mobile inquiry-as-play in mathematics teacher education

Jeremiah Isaac Holden (Department of Information and Learning Technologies, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




This study aims to describe the feasibility of designing and fostering pre-service teacher inquiry at the intersection of community and disciplinary engagement. Mapping My Math (MMM), a game-based and mobile learning activity, guided pre-service teachers in playfully exploring mathematics featured in the everyday activities of people and places and creatively representing this inquiry with digital media.


This study draws from design-based research that examined the role of place, digital media and mobility in mathematics teacher education. Design narrative methods describe how MMM was created, implemented and refined to support disciplinary inquiry across settings given the evolution of tools, activities and practices. The study and design narrative address the following question: How can game-based and mobile learning be designed to support pre-service teachers’ disciplinary inquiry of everyday mathematics?


Findings shared in this study’s design narrative attend to the quality of pre-service teachers’ inquiry-as-play, or expressive mobility situated amonglearners’ social and material relations, disciplinary concepts and the built environment.

Research limitations/implications

Implications from this study concern the role of mobile learning in mathematics teacher education to connect school, community and online settings; the potential of gameful design to impact pre-service teacher learning across settings; and the importance of fostering disciplinary inquiry whereby pre-service teachers can “navigate” their own learning.


Game-based and mobile learning designs, like MMM, can create the conditions for cross-setting mobility as generative of inquiry-as-play in mathematics teacher education. MMM encouraged pre-service teachers to playfully leverage disciplinary practices that shaped new relationships with mathematics, their city and the mathematics of place and community.



The author thanks Mark Wagler and Jim Mathews for their guidance in mobile learning design, the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript for their useful commentary and – most importantly – Torrey Kulow for her contributions to this research.


Holden, J.I. (2016), "Mobile inquiry-as-play in mathematics teacher education", On the Horizon, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 71-81.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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