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Topic: Response to Calculator Use on Exams (posting yesterday)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 28, 2013 8:36 PM

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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,020
Registered: 12/3/04
Response to Calculator Use on Exams (posting yesterday)
Posted: Aug 28, 2013 12:47 PM
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This is a response to the posting yesterday of Dr. David
Leigh-Lancaster, a mathematics curriculum manager in Australia. His
email to me is dated August 27, 2013. For your information ...
Your latest post is of interest.

There is sometimes an implied view, both by those who are forward and
those who are reserved about the use of technology in school
mathematics, that it somehow replaces other skills (process,
routine) pretty much as a matter of course. Even with philosophically
and pragmatically amenable notions such as 'judicious' ,
'appropriate' and the like thrown into the mix, there needs to be
both a reasonable and well-articulated discourse for expectation of
active use of technology, and explicit instruction to facilitate
these expectations being achieved. ''Good' use of technology
(whatever that is held to mean according to whoever's values, beliefs
and preferences) doesn't occur just by default given access, it needs
to be an active, accepted and natural part of working mathematically,
just as is the development of mental and written/by hand approaches,
and indeed combinations of all three as applicable to the problem
and/or context. A common position for those who are less favourably
disposed to the use of technology is to argue for it as a teaching
and learning tool (e.g.: The fifth practice standard, Use Appropriate
Tools Strategically, says that mathematically proficient students
"are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their
understanding of concepts") but avoid consideration of its role as a
tool for working mathematically, that is 'doing' mathematics.

All of this also needs to be cognisant of, and informed by, actual
(and not just preferred) practices in the 'real world'. Whatever
assessment is used it will hopefully reflect this in some measure:
how do people actually use mathematics?. Technology proscribed,
permitted and prescribed structures are used in various systems and
jurisdictions around the world, hopefully based on some reasonably
coherent rationale and design about what students know and can do
(with and/or without the assistance of 'technology').

In Australia we have (from 2008) whole of cohort nation-wide tests at
Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 called NAPLAN (see:
). The Year 3 and 5 tests are conducted without access to technology.
The Year 7 and 9 tests come as a technology free test and a
technology allowed test (although in my view the latter is
technology/non-technology neutral in terms of its questions). You
will appreciate that we have a similar range of 'discussions' in the
broader mathematics education community. In Australia we are also
looking at transition to on-line adaptive delivery over the next few

Dr David Leigh-Lancaster
Mathematics Curriculum Manager
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Level 32 Casselden Place
2 Lonsdale St
Victoria 3000
Telephone: (03) 9032 1690

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority provides high
quality curriculum, assessment and reporting that promotes individual
life long learning.

Please consider the environment before printing this email
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu

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