Tad Watanabe said: > >I think Cindy's point was, and most people on this list agree, that the >stories you tell us are indeed "horror" stories. BUT, there is no >evidence that students you described bocame dependent on calculators >because they were taught with calculators. These anecdotes cannot be >used to make any generalization. They just show how poorly these >students understand mathematics, but not much more. > (this was in response to Cindy's horror stories)
me: Good point, Tad. We can't assume that one element in the learning environment is the cause of anything in particular.
However, before people reject the validity of Cindy's point, let's remember that ANY research on learning has the same flaw. There is no such thing as a _perfect_ educational research design; the design factors are not the only ones learners encounter.
Currently, there is quite a bit of noise about the research on learning in classes that use graphing calculators. Some of these show enhanced learning in the graphing calculator method; some show equal learning; some show better student attitudes.
Other learning factors have gone through this process. We have had such studies on computer assisted learning, mastery learning, advanced organizers, tutoring, lecture vs non-lecture, and so on. In most cases, the positive research results on a learning factor did _not_ follow when the factor was "institutionalized" in a larger quantity of classes. We tend to think analytically, where the parts of a whole have meaning; the world (and especially learners) tend to function in a more social/intuitive/holistic fashion.
Before we conclude that calculators/technology is good/bad for learning, let's think about the whole picture: the learner, the content, the methods, . . .
(If you are thinking that I could have said all this by saying "there are no simple answers", you have the rough idea.)
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