Graphing calculators in college calculus : an examination of teachers' conceptions and instructional practice Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gx41mn34r

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  • The study examined classroom instructional practices and teacher's professed conceptions about teaching and learning college calculus in relationship to the implementation of scientific-programmable-graphics (SPG) calculators. The study occurred at a university not affiliated with any reform project. The participants were not the catalysts seeking to implement calculus reform, but expressed a willingness to teach the first quarter calculus course with the SPG calculator. The research design was based on qualitative methods using comparative case studies of five teachers. Primary data were collected through pre-school interviews and weekly classroom observations with subsequent interviews. Teachers' profiles were established describing general conceptions of teaching calculus, instructional practices, congruence between conceptions and practice, conceptions about teaching using SPG calculators, instructional practice with SPG calculators, and the relationship of conceptions and practice with SPG calculators. Initially, all the teachers without prior experience using SPG calculators indicated concern and skepticism about the usefulness of the technology in teaching calculus and were uncertain how to utilize the calculator in teaching the calculus concepts. During the study the teachers became less skeptical about the calculator's usefulness and found it effective for illustrating graphs. Some of the teachers' exams included more conceptual and graphically-oriented questions, but were not significantly different from traditional exams. Findings indicated the college teachers' conceptions of teaching calculus were generally consistent with their instructional practice when not constrained by time. The teachers did not perceive a dramatic change in their instructional practices. Rather, the new graphing approach curriculum and technology were assimilated into the teachers' normal teaching practices. No major shifts in the role of the teachers were detected. Two teachers demonstrated slight differences in their roles when the SPG calculators were used in class. One was a consultant to the students as they used the SPG calculators; the other became a fellow learner as the students presented different features on the calculator. Use of the calculator was influenced by several factors: inexperience with the calculator, time constraints, setting up the classroom display calculator, preferred teaching styles and emphasis, and a willingness to risk experimenting with established teaching practices and habits.
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