Outcomes and implications of students' use of graphics calculators in the public examination of calculus
Taylor and Francis Ltd
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Engineering and Mathematics
The paper describes an inquiry into students' uses of graphics calculators in the Tertiary Entrance Examination of Calculus in Western Australia for 1998, which was the first year that calculators were allowed for the examination. The prevalence of calculator usage and marks allocated for six questions are considered, based on data collected from examination markers. The nature of calculator usage is described, including errors made, based on our perusal of examination scripts and interviews with students, teachers and markers. A comparative analysis of boys' and girls' performance, as measured by raw examination scores on the examination for 1995-1998 is given. The results suggest that the main areas of difficulty for students are interpreting graphics calculator outputs and knowing when use of graphics calculators is appropriate or possible. While initial indications are that the effect of introducing the calculators is non-discriminatory between boys and girls, no claims can be made without longer-term analysis.