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The Case for CAS


Look around you in the tree of Mathematics today, and you will see some new kids playing around in the branches. They're exploring parts of the tree that have not seen this kind of action in centuries, and they didn't even climb the trunk to get there. You know how they got there? They cheated: they used a ladder. They climbed directly into the branches using a prosthetic extension of their brains known in the Ed Biz as technology. They got up there with graphing calculators.You can argue all you want about whether they deserve to be there, and about whether or not they might fall, but that won't change the fact that they are there, straddled alongside the best trunk-climbers in the tree - and most of them are glad to be there.

Kennedy, B. (1995)

Some Mathematics becomes more important because technology requires it. Some Mathematics becomes less important because technology replaces it. Some Mathematics becomes possible because technology allows it.

Waits, B. (2000)

The two initial quotations are provocative in nature and were chosen to reflect the flavour of the work to follow in this book. As Michael Meagher stated in his discussion paper The arguments for the use of CAS as an effective tool in supporting teaching and learning of mathematics are well established. Now comes the real work. Meagher, M. (2001). The "real work" is demonstrating the connectivity between curriculum and assessment and most crucially demonstrating assessment using CAS. This book aims to test the 'robustness' of the arguments over what is taught using CAS and how this is assessed. The background and theory sets out the research results already available in a convenient and succinct form to allow ready access to data indicating four key issues:

  • That the teaching of mathematics becomes more interesting with CAS;
  • That students are more interested and motivated to learn mathematics with CAS;
  • That students who use CAS are at least as good in 'pencil and paper' skills (PAP) as their traditional counterparts;
  • That high stakes assessment and CAS are compatible.