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Re: Re: Data?and Dr. Zhang
Posted:
Mar 20, 2001 10:27 AM


On 14 March John Knight wrote:
> >If it took us 20 years to figure out that calculators "had a negative effect > >on students' learning of math", then we need to be careful about what stage > >of math education computer science instruction begins, or we will never > >figure out that computers have the same effect on learning as calculators > >did.
I never can resist replying to statements of this kind.
There is no substantial evidence (NAEP notwithstanding) that the use of calculators has intrinsically *any* negative effect on students' learning of math. Sure, there are studies that purport to show such negative effects but there are many more that purport to show positive effects. All such studies are subject to criticism but totally uncontrolled studies like those using NAEP data just cannot be used to make such a sweeping claim.
Yes, of course, calculators can be, are being and will be used in ways to create negative effects. But they can, are and must be used to produce positive effects. What we should be doing in American math education is not to get rid of calculators but to make strenuous efforts to reinforce their good use and to root out their bad use.
See, for example, http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~ar9/abolpub.htm
Tony Ralston Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Mathematics SUNY at Buffalo
Academic Visitor Department of Computing Imperial College, London
email: ar9@doc.ic.ac.uk phone and fax: (020) 7589 2195 Home Page: www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~ar9
Mailing address: Flat 4 58 Prince Consort Road London SW7 2BA



