The validity of student self-reports about the effectiveness of graphing calculators in an undergraduate mathematics classroom
Grzadzielewski, Andrew Allen
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Nineteen undergraduate mathematic students from three Pre-Calculus classes were observed during class meetings, in lab sessions, and in one-on-one interviews. The study used a qualitative methodology to consider the validity of their attitudes toward their graphing calculators. In the interview sessions, students talked about classroom problem solving situations and also solved mathematics problems posed by the researcher with the use of think-aloud commentaries. Findings suggest that students' beliefs about the effectiveness of their graphing calculators in helping them learn and retain mathematical ideas and concepts are often suspect, and that researchers who rely on this type of student input need to be wary of its validity. Thus, the study calls into question the effectiveness of surveys as an instrument for determining whether or not students benefit from the use of graphing calculators, especially if such instruments are the only tool used to gauge student calculator perceptions. Finally, the researcher postulates that assessment practices of the instructors participating in the study were naive in that these assessments allowed many students to use the graphing calculator in ways that caused the instructors to believe that the students knew more about class topics than they actually did.
- Education - Seattle