Loughborough University
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The influence of the basic electronic calculator on the teaching and learning of mathematics in the 11-16 age range

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posted on 2012-09-12, 10:54 authored by Paul G. Edmonds
The electronic calculator is now invariably the device used by people in employment and everyday life to deal with complicated and tedious calculations. The aim of this dissertation is to examine the effect it may have on the secondary school mathematics curriculum and, especially, to examine its potential as a powerful teaching aid which can be used to help pupils to acquire understanding of mathematical concepts. Chapter 1 investigates the contribution the basic calculator makes as a calculating aid which should cause the teacher to reassess the place of the standard pencil and paper algorithms in the curriculum. Some of the fears associated with this innovation are also discussed. The final section emphasises the importance of knowing the idiosyncrasies of different calculators. Chapter 2 suggests, in some detail, ways in which the teacher may use the calculator to enhance the understanding of certain topics such as fractions and place value. Applications of the calculator to everyday life problems, such as compound interest, are also included as well as the possibility of more interesting and enjoyable topics being introduced into the syllabus. New methods, such as iterative procedures, are discussed and the potential of the calculator as an aid to investigations is ascerted. Chapter 3 looks at the beneficial influence of the calculator on the mathematics curriculum generally and the possible effect on the mathematical content in particular with further suggestions following on from Chapter 2. Some contentious issues are considered and it is emphasised that more must be done to encourage the effective use of the calculator and not allow it to be overshadowed by its more 'glamorous' counterpart - the microcomputer.



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© Paul George Edmonds

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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