Uses of microcomputers to enchance precalculus mathematics Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mc87pt733

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  • Microcomputers are being used in teaching and learning mathematics. This paper examines ways that computers can be used to enhance teaching in precalculus mathematics. The advantages of computers discussed are: 1) instant access to graphs, 2) examples that are not oversimplified to make computations manageable, 3) encouragement of hypothesizing and testing, 4) reinforcement of problem-solving techniques, 5) increasing students' confidence in using mathematics, and 6) changing classroom dynamics to make teachers more like guides. A literature review reveals two particularly noteworthy studies. The first one looks at the positive effects that computer use had on a beginning calculus class. The second one follows one student and shows how computer use did not enhance her progress in mathematics. Comparison of these two studies indicates some characteristics of both effective and ineffective uses of computers in mathematics. Specific examples covering five topics are discussed to show how computers can be used advantageously in mathematics classes. The topics covered are 1) local extrema and roots of polynomials, 2) simple word problems, 3) Gaussian elimination, 4) linear programming, and 5) polar graphs. The paper concludes with a discussion of how computers should be used in teaching and learning mathematics, along with some suggestions for additional research directions.
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