Frederick Belton wrote: > I am seeking comments from any of you who have experience with using > graphing calculators in developmental math classes. Here at the university at the opposite end of the state, we don't use graphing calculators in our developmental math classes, but maybe not for the reason you think. While it's true that many of our students coming out of high school already have graphing calculators, they are different brands and models. Depending on their major, after they finish our classes, they take either probability and statistics (most education, business, arts, and social sciences majors) or the precalculus/calculus sequence. The math department requires one inexpensive scientific calculator (which unfortunately has been discontinued) for the stats class and a different graphing calculator (TI-83 or 86, it seems like, although last year it was an HP) for calculus. We didn't feel it was fair to require all our students to spend $75-100 or more on a calculator if most of them weren't going to use it after the course, especially since our new textbooks retail for about $72. That's just asking too much for our students to pay for one course, particularly for those who are supporting themselves and maybe even a spouse and small children. (We also use the same book for elementary and intermediate algebra to try to save students a bit more money.) Now to the questions, even though we don't require graphing calculators. > 1. How much class time must be set aside to teach keystrokes? I'll speak to this from my experience teaching finding roots and powers on scientific or graphing calculators. If you are going to use them heavily, you'll probably need to require the same or nearly the same (e.g. TI-82 or 83; 85 or 86) calculator from everyone, but I'm sure some would balk if they already possessed a different one. If you let them use what they have, you'll need to make sure you're familiar with most of the models out there, or can figure it out on the fly (which is actually pretty exciting, if you ask me). One of our developmental math faculty members does a "brown bag lunch seminar" each semester through the adult (nontraditional) programs office to teach any student interested how to use a scientific calculator. They're usually fairly well attended. > 2. Do you require that each student buy a calculator, or do you just use one > in class for demonstrations? For intermediate algebra I do require use of some kind of scientific or graphing calculator, but allow them to use whatever they have or suggest they buy the calculator used in stats (Sharp EL-546L, about $16) or get an inexpensive one at a discount store. One of these days I'd like to order an overhead calculator. Right now, though, with Tennessee higher education facing budget cuts due to an antiquated tax system, I don't foresee spending any money on that or, say, a class set of graphing calculators. If the math department required the same calculator for both core math classes, we would probably have students buy them. > 3. Has use of calculators increased pass rates, retention rates or anything >else? Any negative effects? I have no information available. > 4. What degree of interest have your students shown in graphing calculators? No more than anything else in math class. BTW, several are interested in having resources available on the Web, and before we changed books, I posted copies of old tests on the Web for them to use as additional study guides. Hope this is vaguely related to your question. Perhaps this discussion should cross over to the NADE math SPIN list--it's been silent for several days. Daryl Stephens <[log in to unmask]> Assistant Professor (math) Division of Developmental Studies East Tennessee State University Box 70620, Johnson City, TN 37614 Office phone (423) 439-4676 Fax: (423) 439-7446