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The use of graphing calculators in high school calculus: Adding up the implications

1 December 1993


Technology that is available for classrooms in constantly changing and increasing. This technology has many implications for the classroom because it affects the way students learn, what students learn and how they are taught. The last decade has brought an amazing amount of easily accessed computer based manipulatives. The symbolic/graphing calculator is one such manipulative. Regular calculation calculators have been available for some time. Even graphing calculators have been available to students, but never required as part of the curriculum. The study was designed to study the implications of basing a curriculum on the graphing/symbolic calculator with a text designed to use the calculator. The high school in this study received a grant from Hewelet Packard to implement this type of course in the calculus class, requiring the use of graphing/ symbolic calculators. The majority of this paper is based on the reaction between students and the calculator during the first few weeks of learning. The trials, tribulations, successes and surprises that occurred with the students using the calculator is documented. Also included are the thoughts of students about the impact of calculator use on their general educational experience. The opportunity to implement this type of curriculum is increasing and it is necessary to be aware of some of the impact it has on the students. These calculators change to focus of learning from rote memorization to repetition and increased concept attainment. Before increasing the use of these programs the benefit must be assessed. This paper provides a look at the actual occurrences in a classroom.


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