Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Education (Hons.)


School of Education

First Advisor

Mr A. Herrington

Second Advisor

Mr R. Johnstone


Computer algebra systems are programs that manipulate both symbols and numbers and so can reduce the tedium of algebra in the same way calculators can reduce the time and work involved in arithmetic. Some systems combine a wide ranqe of mathematical functions with graphing capabilities. As such they have the potential to reduce the time students spend calculating algorithms, allowing more time for concept development, which is enhanced by the ability of the program to concurrently represent mathematical functions graphically. Originally computer algebra systems were only developed for mainframe computers, but in recent years several systems have become available for microcomputers. These systems are being introduced to mathematics teaching at tertiary level. This study considered some aspects of their introduction at upper secondary level in Western Australia. Two systems were identified as suitable for use in schools and one of these, Derive, was considered in some detail. It was found that the utilities available within the program were applicable to most areas of the new upper school mathematics curricula due for introduction in 1991. A small group of mathematics teachers was administered a demonstration and given hands-on exercises with Derive, then their views sought via a questionnaire on the introduction of such programs. Their response was generally positive. They believed the programs had the potential to improve mathematics for both students and teachers, if applied sensibly. The introduction of the program would have to be supported by extra computing resources and training for some teachers. The way the programs were applied would be critical; they must stimulate students' mathematical thinking, not merely do the work for them.