Electronic Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics



CONTRIBUTED PAPER: 13-C26

Coping with multiple calculator models in College Algebra

Mark Farris
Midwestern State University
3410 Taft Blvd.
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
Phone: (940)-397-4193
Fax: (940)-397-4442
E-mail: farris@nexus.mwsu.edu

ABSTRACT

New models of graphing calculators arrive on a regular basis. Texas Instruments alone introduced 8 models in a 10 year period. At many schools it is impractical or impossible to have every student use the same model and often different brands as well as different models are used in the same classroom. This situation brings about both advantages and disadvantages for a College Algebra instructor.

Calculators differ in how they handle order of operation and in the number of pixels in the graphical display. When the instructor is aware of these differences, they can be used to provide instruction on concepts such as appropriate use of parentheses, aspect ratios, and vertical asymptotes. Specific examples will be given.

Scatterplots and regression analysis are now common in College Algebra textbooks. Producing these on a calculator is a relatively complicated procedure compared to the usual types of calculations students are expected to do. Teaching this to students can be handled by using a general procedure given at a level that works on any model accompanied by more specific details on a case by case basis. Breaking the details up into pieces makes the regression analysis easier for the students to grasp.