> I think Chih Han Sah's recent post and Tad Watanabe's reply to it > illustrate exactly why anecdotal evidence (like all evidence) needs to be > taken with caution. The first example, regarding averaging two identical > numbers, punching into a calculator without using parentheses, and then > glibly accepting a ridiculous result until enlightened by a fellow > student (whom we are to assume is uncorrupted by calculator use) sounds > extremely fishy to me. Why? Because I have a hard time imagining that > these alleged engineering students would have gotten too far in their > program (assuming they could even gain entrance to it) given their > obvious lack of number sense.
Well, I can understand your healthy skepticism, Mike. However, I have seen my _own_students (not reports of other students) doing just this sort of nonsensical thing. No, it is certainly not happening every day in my class. As Laura Peterson (sorry, Laura, if I spelled that wrong) commented, it is frustrating to see it happening and downright discouraging if it keeps happening. If the majority were doing it the majority of the time, I doubt I'd keep teaching.
By the way, I believe in the proper use of technology in the classroom, including calculators; but these horror stories do indeed happen. If you've never had such an experience, (1) you haven't been teaching long, or (2) you haven't taught service courses, or (3) you have exceptional students, or (4) you don't wander around your classroom and observe your students much.