Learning Opportunities with Graphing Calculators: The Case of Asymptotes


Ida Ah Chee MOK

Department of Curriculum Studies
The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong


The findings reported in literature though are generally in favour of the potential of elevating learning mathematics by technology, the availability of technology never promises a panacea. In fact, an effective use of technology in mathematics classrooms depends on how students interact between the peers, the teacher and the technology.  This reliance on interaction will imply a radical change in the culture of the Hong Kong mathematics classrooms, which are famous for demonstrating an expository style. Hong Kong, on the one hand, has to learn from the west. On the other hand, it has to be cautious to look into the feasibility of western models in a region of different culture.  This study attempted to introduce a cognitive model whilst introducing the use of graphing calculators. The model has been developed in the Cognitive Acceleration in Mathematics Education (CAME) project in UK and has applied both the constructivists' and 'social constructivists' views of learning.  The key features are concrete preparation, cognitive conflict, construction, metacognition and bridging – imbedded in a 'mediation' style of teaching. The trial was carried out in a secondary-6 class on the topic of asymptotes. Episodes of the lessons are used to illustrate how cognitive conflicts could be captured in students’ work with the graphing calculators and how the teacher, playing the role of a mediator, could change cognitive conflicts into situations supporting dynamic students’ construction.

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