Investigating a link between pre-calculus studentsâ€™ uses of graphing calculators and their understanding of mathematical symbols. (English)

Int. J. Technol. Math. Educ. 21, No. 4, 157-166 (2014).

Summary: This study examined ways in which students make use of a graphing calculator and how use relates to comfort and understanding with mathematical symbols. Analysis involved examining studentsâ€™ words and actions in problem solving to identify evidence of algebraic insight. Findings suggest that some symbols and symbolic structures had strong influences on studentsâ€™ choices in problem solving, and that that difficulties in symbol sense can lead students to turn to a graphing calculator as a tool for prompting a way to start a problem, or for providing a guess or confirmation. Certain symbols also lead some students to believe that they cannot use a calculator at all. Implications for teaching with a graphing calculator are included.