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Home :: Community :: Surveys :: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Results
No, performance is not decreasing. 49 14.8%
No, other causes are to blame. 97 29.2%
Maybe, more study should be done. 77 23.2%
Yes, calculators promote blind calculations which precludes mathematical intuition and deeper understanding. 69 20.8%
Yes, burn the calculators!!! 18 5.4%
I don't know. 22 6.6%

 Survey posted 2001-03-29 02:11 by Andy Selle. Contribute ideas to surveys by sending a mail to survey@ticalc.org.

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Choson

It is the way math is taught in High School. My teachers wont let us use our 89's to do problems when we are learning how to do it by hand. That seems to be the simplest way to make students learn rather than letting them use their calcs all the time.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 07:34 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Wouter v.d. Put
(Web Page)

No, performance is not decreasing.
Why don't we all use calculators? Much faster then brains (most times).

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 11:02 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Rimo

in my case, my calc (ti89) has helped me in understandig deeper than any book and teacher because with the calc I can explore quickly a huge amount of cases, small changes in coeficients, etc that wouldn't be possible to write in a book nor to be explained in class. I believe that the best way to learn math is to play around with it, try to plot strange functions, and so on. Anyway, the calc will only do calculation, it will never substitute the human mathematic 'fantasy'. I do believe that calc can do some harm if used in early courses, where the calc can do the work that is supposed to be done by the student, but this does not happen in college, at least in Italy. (i'm currently on my last year of aerospace eng. at the university of PISA, Italy)

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 16:56 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Jack Lau
(Web Page)

I am wishing to study Computer Engineering next year at University. That's when I will need my TI-86 that I bought 'two years early' because I initally had a really crap TI-81 where as everyone else had a TI-83! I am currently revising for my A-Levels and hope to get good results in Physics, Maths and IT.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 18:45 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
James Marshall
(Web Page)

I voted for maybe because calculators may or may not be (part of) the cause but it probably depends on the individual students. It's the difference between using the caculator as a crutch or as a tool. If you're using it as a tool, you're learning the material properly first and then using the calc to save you the time and effort of doing all the calculations by hand. But the thing is you've learned how to do it and so you understand basically what the calc is doing for you. If all you're doing is making the calc solve problems for you without learning the material first, so you don't know what the calc is doing, then it has become a crutch. The calc is then a black box, you put stuff in and answers come out, but you don't know how to get the output from the input. Take a test where calculators aren't allowed and you're in trouble. If used incorrectly, as a crutch instead of a tool, then yes, graphing calculators like TI's can contribute to a lack of mathematical knowledge and understanding. But when used correctly in conjunction with (and not instead of) learning the material, it's a useful tool in saving time and effort and there's nothing wrong with them. Just my opinion.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 18:49 GMT

Not at all.
Knight/Rocket

The reason people believe that calculators ruin math knowledge is very simple. They (our predecessors) did not have calculators to use, so any change in the instruction of math is an evil thing which will ruin learning.

There are always those who will work hard at math, regardless of their using a 89, 30xIIS, or an abacus. The instruction in math is becoming far more computation driven, almost requiring a calculator in order to perform well. Even classes as different as Chemistry have large amounts of mathematical calculations required, and a calculator is necessary to complete the exam in the given time.

One problem in the "dropping" of math knowledge is the changing of tools. I used an 83 and 83+ all through high school and learned them to the point I could almost work them blindfolded. However, in college, no graphing calculators are allowed. Thus, a large amount of time and energy is wasted figuring out how to perform simple calculations on a different calculator.

I can swear to this being true. I started with a simple 83 and mastered it, then I was forced to use a scientific. That scientific was RPN, a fact I was not aware of and which was not printed on the case.

If teachers want the grades to rise, allow more time for exams. Most errors can be caught easily, provided a little time to look.

Knight/Rocket's 2c.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 23:15 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
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(Web Page)

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Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 23:16 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
onefastfiveoh

Although there are many causes for the "dumbing" of college students these days, like what the first comment said, beer (my case), I believe that the use of calculators if a major factor. From the classes that I have taken, there seemed to be a strong correlation between the use of calculators and the intellectually ignorant.

I have completed several coarses in mathematics and in all the use of calculators was highly discouraged. Sure, I used one every so often, one can not be expected to double intregal of 25x^5*ln(32y*x^y) bounded by y=x, y=ln(x^5), x=0, and x=100 in their head.

Anyway, using a calculator to do most of the work for you, opperately conditions you by negative reinforcement, escape conditioning to be exact. I think.

Using a calculator will cause you to not elicit any learning, except in the area of the functions of the calculator.

Am I making any sense?

onefastfiveoh

Reply to this comment    29 March 2001, 23:28 GMT

:)
Shaun

Yes you ARE making sense, scary huh? Anyway I was the person who made the first comment:) I am not in college though, (high school), to tell the truth I actually based my comment on a series of comments you made in a survey a long time ago, In a galaxy far far away...

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 09:00 GMT

Re: :)
onefastfiveoh

Woh, this is scary.

Not only did I make since, but someone actually reads my comments and uses them for a bassis of they're own comments.

Why didn't you cite me as a source?

I'mm getting carried away aren't I?

Time for meds.

onefastfiveoh

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 22:50 GMT

damn
onefastfiveoh

hey that double integral problem i stated above, i guess i didn't realize that i made up such a difficult problem. i tried solving it by taking dy then dx. that didn't work so well. so i thought about trying to approach it by dx then dy but figured i had better things to do. so if anybody wants to solve it and let me know the answer, be my guest. good luck.

it doesn't hurt that i'm a little rusty on my multivariable calculus either.

onefastfiveoh

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 23:04 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
nick_2x

I think the teachers are the one to blame for our failures.

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 01:17 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
acr34
(Web Page)

Without calcs solving simeltanious equations by matricies would be pointless-Why solve two simeltanious equations instead of just solving it?

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 01:57 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
jpd2000

The ability to use a calculator in practically every situation has led students into a subconscious mentallity of laziness because of the advancement/capabilities of them.

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 02:18 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Recneps

It is the calc making people stupid it is making them smarter and therefor when the stupid people get smarter the smart people don't look as smart.

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 04:30 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
(Web Page)

I think that graphing calculators should be used for prerequisities. For example, in calculus, you should do the integration yourself, but one should be allowed to use a graphing calc for the algebra involved in Calculus. Nothing is more annoying than losing 15% on a test because you forgot a negation or added wrong =p

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 19:27 GMT

Exactly.
Knight/Rocket

I agree completely. Either allow a graphing calculator on tests or allow sufficient time to check all responses to ensure that simple errors are corrected.

The primary reason I bought an 83 in the first place was to be able to see previous calculations, and losing that capability hurts accuracy on tests. Since teachers seem vehemently opposed to allowing extra time on exams (I designed this test to take 45 minutes. I only take 5 minutes to pass it out. There are 50 minutes in class. You need no more time, nor will you have more.), allowing graphing calcs seems a logical option.

Maybe, in order to make it more palatable, the calcs allowed should not be able to do the work for you.( ie. an 83/83+/85 for Calculus, an 85/86/89 for stats and so on.)

Knight/Rocket's 4c.

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 19:56 GMT

Re: Exactly.
Daniel Bishop
(Web Page)

You're right about calculus, but an 83 in stats wouldn't be cheating. Most of the people in my AP stats class didn't even know how to use the DISTR functions. And those of us who did had to write down so much of the thought processes that the calculator wasn't much of an unfair advantage.

Reply to this comment    31 March 2001, 21:46 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
Aaron Povolish
(Web Page)

Personally, I use my TI-92+ on all of my homework. But, when it comes to test time, I RARELY rely on my calculator to give me answers. I always do well on tests this way, and I retain more of what I learn. Just something for you all to think about.

Reply to this comment    30 March 2001, 23:48 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
sammo_21

I own a TI-89.

I take geometry.

I use my TI-89 for homework.
I use my TI-89 for tests.

As I said in another message board, my teacher does not allow me to use the 89 for her tests. She does not even know how to turn on my TI-89.

She does not like it how the TI-89 can do things.

She offers me a TI-82 to use for the tests.

That is my story.

Oh yes, I use my TI-89 for helping me learn stuff. I never use it to supply me the answer.

Reply to this comment    31 March 2001, 03:42 GMT

Re: Do you believe that graphing calculators are causing the decrease in math knowledge and performance of university students?
torbid

I have gotten a 5 on the BC and Physics C exams, taken multivariable and differential equations and currently am participating in an correspondence contour integration course, in addition to some elementary quantum mechanics and fluid mechanics (although the former does not lend itself easily to calculator assistance). I have yet to experience 'true' college math/physics, being stuck in high school for a few more months, but has a calculator hurt me? I would say not. For most of my pre-calculus career I had a TI-83, until it was stolen, and have used a TI-89 ever since. The TI-89 is a godsend; I can check integrals and easily retrieve numbers, which is especially useful for physics, if you don't want to write down 10-digits every step of the way. I personally feel I am doing fine. Who are calculators hurting? The art of mental arithimetic is a dying one, thanks to calculators (see Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman, a partial autobiographical account by the late Richard Feynman, if you want to see the beauty of calculating cube roots and logarithms in your head) but who gains such extensive skills in mental math? Only the truly gifted; the 'masses' ignore(d) such problems. The truly gifted instead now switch their energies towards different areas, and those without the ability to do large product multiples in their heads can still participate (although it can still be fun as a parlor trick; demonstrate a 5th or 6th partial sum for e to the 1 or 2 and amaze your friends!) Calculators *can* be a crutch, but in most cases are not fully abused, whether by ignorance or choice. They open up the mysterious realms of mathematics more fully.

Reply to this comment    31 March 2001, 21:10 GMT

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