Using CAS to Enrich the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics
Robyn Pierce r.pierce@ballarat.edu.au
Information Technology &Mathematical Sciences University of Ballarat Australia
Abstract
Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) are powerful tools for both doing and
learning mathematics. They may be used to perform algorithmic routines
both quickly and correctly but harnessing this power in a manner which
is effective for promoting learning is not trivial. Research undertaken
with both secondary school and undergraduate students clearly indicates
that, while students quickly come to appreciate the availability of CAS
to check their answers, several key factors influence the development
of their use of the facility of CAS to extend both access to
mathematics and support learning of mathematical concepts. First the
institutional value which the technology is afforded influences the
degree to which students are willing to apply themselves to the task of
learning technical skills necessary to work with CAS. Second, the use
of multiple representations may both increase students’ conceptual
understanding and provide them with alternative methods through which
to progress solution of problems. Finally students need to be guided in
judicious use of CAS. This will involve teaching students to be
discriminating in their use of technology for functional purposes, that
is to find solutions to difficult or time consuming problems, and
strategic in their use of CAS to explore patterns and link
representations in order to gain greater insight into mathematical
processes and concepts.
