Algebraic Skills and CAS - Could Assessment Sabotage the Potential?

Tom Macintyre, Ian Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports on the impact that dedicated access to hand-held CAS had on the ‘algebraic skills’ of students following a year-12 mathematics course in Scottish schools. Teachers and students used the TI-92 (pre flash) in their studies, but not in assessment. Student performance in an algebraic test was compared with that of students in control schools who did not have access to the same technology. The results show that the students using CAS improved on their performance, with a 7% increase in the study sample compared to the control (p=0.004). The discussion explores underlying reasons for these differences, considering: teaching approaches promoted by staff; impact of mathematical rigour demanded by the technologies; motivational effect of dedicated access to CAS; and how assessment influences the uptake of CAS. Many opportunities are acknowledged, but difficulties are noted in trying to separate ‘learning’ from ‘assessment’, the latter being seen as the biggest barrier to further use of CAS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-56
JournalThe International Journal of Computer Algebra in Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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