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Treat technology with care: Some traps for the unwary

Bloom, L.M. and Bloom, W.R. (2000) Treat technology with care: Some traps for the unwary. In: 5th Asian Technology Conference in Mathematics (ATCM) 2000, 17-21 December 2000, Chiang Mai, Thailand

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The advent of technology in the form of powerful calculators and computer algebra systems brought with it the promise of enormous change in the mathematics curriculum at the secondary and lower tertiary levels. There was the idea that, now that the difficult time-consuming graphing and calculation could be done by the calculator/computer, teachers could fit in so much more 'real mathematics'. In fact, the range of topics covered has not changed significantly. One reason for this is the need to spend time teaching students the judicious use of this powerful new technology. This is needed to combat the very real danger that students will happily accept whatever answers the technology gives them, which in many cases could be totally incorrect. The reasons for these wrong answers are many and varied. The easiest to cope with is when the message ERROR (or its equivalent) appears as a prompt. But what should the student do when a seemingly correct answer is produced? Our experience is that students will just accept the given answer. In this paper we use the computer algebra system Scientific Notebook v.3.5 to illustrate some of the common pitfalls that arise in both teaching and assessment and discuss measures to avoid and/or redress these.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
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