Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of student use of graphics calculators in college algebra classes on the learning of algebraic concepts and especially on those involving graphing skills.

The study was conducted during the spring semester 1993 in four college algebra sections, each originally consisting of 35 students and taught from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or from 11:00 a.m. to noon. The students involved in the study were randomly assigned to either a control or treatment section. Two sections of students made up the treatment group, and these students received instruction with and used graphics calculators in their coursework and testing. Forty students remained in the treatment group at the end of the study. The other two sections made up the control group, and these students used calculators of their choice, excluding any type of graphics calculator. Thirty-two control group students completed the study. The two instructors for the groups, the researcher for the treatment sections and another graduate teaching assistant for the control sections, conferred regularly to insure that ail students were taught the same concepts at a similar pace. All of the students involved in the study used the same textbook and completed the same textbook assignments and researcher-constructed unit tests and posttest.

To determine if significant differences existed between the mean scores of the two groups on the researcher-constructed posttest, an analysis of covariance was done, using a basic algebra placement exam written by the Mathematics Association of America, as the pretreatment measure and covariatc. No significant differences were found.

Using t tests, a significant difference was found to exist between the mean scores of the treatment and control groups on the first and second unit tests, with the treatment group scores higher in both cases (p < .05). No significant differences were found for the remaining unit tests. The results of repeated measures with trend analysis showed no significant methods effect, but significant total trend effect.

Of nineteen specific concepts investigated, the control group mean scores were found to be significantly higher in two differed concept areas; the treatment group mean scores were significantly higher in four different concept areas (p <. 10).

The survey given to ail students who completed the study revealed that 82% of those responding from the treatment group felt that the graphics calculator had a favorable effect on their learning of algebraic concepts, and 86% recommended that it be used in the teaching of all college mathematics courses. Twenty percent of the respondents from the control group believed that the calculator they had used had a favorable effect ou their teaming.