NOMAD 9(4), 2004. The use of symbolic algebra in learning mathematics: the barrier from formal examination schemes

 

JOHN BERRY, ROGER FENTEM, ANNA-MAIJA PARTANEN & SIRKKA TIIHALA

Abstract
Using technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics requires, among other things, positive attitudes from students and teachers. In this study, two teachers helped design and then taught two courses of mathematics to four groups of upper secondary school students. Two of the student groups had full access to graphic calculators with symbolic algebra systems and the other two groups had full access to graphing calculators without symbolic algebra software. In this paper we report on the student attitudes and beliefs about using technology in their course within a curriculum that restricts its use in a ’final matriculation examination’. The outcomes suggest that integrated technology teaching impacts in a complex fashion on student attitude. The results of this study suggest that the nature of the assessment system which forms part of the curriculum influences the attitude towards rich usage of the technology.

Sammandrag
Att använda tekniska hjälpmedel vid undervisning och lärande av matematik kräver, bland annat, positiva attityder från elever och lärare. I den här studien har två lärare planerat och undervisat två matematikkurser i fyra elevgrupper i gymnasiet. Två av grupperna hade fri tillgång till grafiska räknare med symbolhantering. De andra två gruppperna hade fri tillgång till grafiska räknare utan symbolhantering. I artikeln redogör vi för elevernas attityder till och uppfattningar beträffande användning av tekniska hjälpmedel i en kurs där motsvarande hjälpmedel inte får användas fritt vid slutprovet. Resultatet antyder att en integrerad användning av tekniska hjälpmedel i undervisningen påverkar elevernas attityder på ett sammansatt sätt. Resultatet antyder vidare att utvärderingsformen, som en del av kursplanen, påverkar attityden mot ett fruktbart användande av de tekniska hjälpmedlen.

John Berry
After a period of thirty years teaching mathematics in higher education, John Berry has retired from full time employment. However he remains very active as a research Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Plymouth, the Mathematics Professor in Residence at Wells Cathedral School in Somerset and a mathematics consultant working with able and gifted pupils in the South West of England. John’s research interests are in the teaching and learning of mathematics with technology, student’s conceptual understanding in mathematics and working with mathematically able children.
E-mail: jberry@ctm1.freeserve.co.uk

Roger Fentem
Roger Fentem is senior lecturer in mathematics education at the College of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, England. Roger’s research interests are in the use of technology in teaching and learning mathematics and in the use of value added models for school improvement.
E-mail: rfentem@marjon.ac.uk

Anna-Maija Partanen
Anna-Maija Partanen teaches mathematics at Lyseonpuiston Lukio in Rovaniemi Finland. She has an interest in the use of mathematical modelling activities and the use of technology in teaching and learning mathematics. Anna-Maija is working towards a higher degree in the University in Rovaniemi.
E-mail: anna-maija.partanen@rovaniemi.fi

Sirkka Tiihala
Sirkka Tiihala teaches mathematics at Keminmaan Lukio in Keminmaa, Finland. She has developed several courses which integrate the use of graphic calculators and computer algebra into the teaching and learning of upper secondary mathematics.
E-mail: stiihala@edu.keminmaa.fi