Graphics Calculators in Learning of Mathematics: Teacher Understandings and Classroom Practices

Michael Cavanagh, Michael Mitchelmore


In a two-day workshop, 12 teachers who had not previously used graphics
calculators not only learnt how to use a calculator but also completed calculator
tasks designed to explore their misconceptions and then learnt about students’
difficulties. Observation of lessons taught subsequently by 6 of the teachers, and
interviews with 15 of their students, were used to investigate the effectiveness of
the workshop in promoting appropriate use of technology in their mathematics
classes. It was found that the teachers consistently drew their students’ attention to
limitations of the technology. Apparently as a result, their students showed
considerably fewer misconceptions than students in a previous study who had
been taught by teachers who had not undertaken such professional development.
The few remaining student misconceptions could be traced to lingering
uncertainties on the part of their teachers. Implications of the findings for
mathematics teacher education are discussed.


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