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Re: AP
Posted:
Jan 31, 1996 9:03 PM


Jerry Uhl writes:
In fact, the new AP calculator based questions are really no different from the old hand questions. As a result the AP encourages the simple expedient of just cutting technology into the old course possibly degrading it.
I agree that many of the new GC active AP questions do little more than cut technology into "old" questions. And that it is regrettable. A perfect example is the areavolume question on the '95 exam (where a student had to use the machine to find at least one of the three points of intersection of x^2 and 2^x). '95 was the first year that GCs were required, and my guess is that ETS didn't want to scare anyone off too quickly. But, the fact that GCs are used in the course allows more creative and penetrating calculator neutral questions to be asked. See AB6 and BC6 which involve the area accumulation function. My sense is that we can get closer at assessing students' understanding of fundamental *concepts* now. There has been justified criticism of the AP exams that they really did little more than assess a laundry list of skills. But the exam *has* changed for the better over the past 5 or 6 years I think. And is moving away from the laundry list.
The real advantage of technology is its potential to be used to get at new ideas. None of the available calculatorbased courses have progressed to this point.
It is also a real advantage of technology when it can be used effectively as a tool to illuminate *old* ideas that were more elusive before. Calculus hasn't changed any, and we're still teaching Calculus, right? For example, the use of slope fields (prominent in several "reformed" courses and included in the new AP course description) in a firstyear calculus course *is* new, I believe, and does allow students new graphical insights into some "old" fundamental ideas of calculus.
I'd be interested in hearing what Jerry (or anyone else, for that matter!) thinks the new ideas are that we need to try to get at. Are there things we're *not* now trying to teach in Calculus that we should be trying to teach? What? And why?
Mark Howell



