Use of scientific calculators in the teaching and learning of school mathematics: the case of one secondary school in Lusaka, Zambia.
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The use of scientific calculators in the teaching and learning process of secondary school Mathematics in the Zambian education system began in 2001. Since then, there has been lack of the Zambian context research evidence regarding the use of scientific calculators in the teaching and learning process. In this regard, the present study was intended to contribute to the knowledge about the use of scientific calculators by learners and teachers of Mathematics in secondary schools. A qualitative approach and specifically a case study design was used because it provided a systematic way of acquiring in-depth understanding of the phenomenon which was being investigated. The sample comprised of 8 teachers and 24 learners of secondary school Mathematics. The teachers were selected using a homogeneous purposive sampling technique while the learners were chosen through self-selection sampling technique. In respect of data collection, participant observation schedules, unstructured interviews, focus group discussions and a performance test were utilized. Data accessed through observations, interviews and group discussions were analyzed thematically while the data derived from the performance test was analyzed through exploration of learners’ answers to specific test questions. Analysis of the data showed that teachers of Mathematics supported the use of scientific calculators in the teaching and learning process of Mathematics. Teachers argued that calculators made learners to be over dependent on the gadget even in instances where simple computations are involved and had a salient effect of robbing learners of the necessary ability to think mathematically. Furthermore, learners demonstrated occasional lack of ability to effectively use scientific calculators, for example, in topics such as indices and fractions. This discovery suggested that learners are rarely taught the major functions of a scientific calculator or even how to operate calculators. Moreover, it was found out that teachers also lacked capacity to adequately and appropriately use the functions of scientific calculators. It is therefore recommended that schools adopt unique models of scientific calculators whose functions are easy to use by learners. In addition, subject association programs could provide opportunities for teachers to familiarize themselves with the use of scientific calculators in teaching of Mathematics. Keywords: Scientific calculator, teaching and learning Mathematics, performance, Zambia.
The University of Zambia
SubjectMathematics--Study and teaching
Mathematics--Study and teaching (Middle school).
Mathematics--Study and teaching (Secondary).
- Education