Computer Algebra System Calculators: Gender Issues and Teachers' Expectations
Australian Senior Mathematics Journal
Volume 20 Issue 2 (2006)
Forgasz, Helen J1; Griffith, Shirly2
Abstract: In this paper we present findings from two studies focusing on computer algebra system (CAS) calculators. In Victoria, Australia, it is currently mandatory for students to use graphics calculators in some grade 12 mathematics examinations. Since 2001, a pilot study has been conducted involving Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) students using CAS calculators instead of graphics calculators. From 2006-2008 the CAS calculator will be optional; from 2009 it is expected to replace the graphics calculator. The first study described here involves an exploration over a three-year time frame, 2002-2004, of male and female students' results in the grade 12 Mathematical Methods subject in which students used graphics calculators and small numbers of students in the pilot study, Mathematical Methods (CAS) subject, who used CAS calculators. The findings indicated a widening of the gender gap in performance favouring males. In the second study, teachers' views of the likely impact of the widespread use of CAS calculators were examined. Teachers were generally positive about the introduction of the CAS calculators and their impacts on teaching, student learning, and the curriculum. The implications of the findings of the two studies are discussed.