The Effects of Using Graphing Calculators in Teaching and Learning of Mathematics on Students’ Performance
Three phases of quasi-experimental study with non-equivalent control group post-test only design were conducted to investigate the effects of using graphing calculators in mathematics teaching and learning on Form Four Malaysian secondary school students‟ performance. Experiment in Phase I was conducted for two weeks to provide an initial indicator of the effectiveness of graphing calculator strategy on students‟ performance. Graphing calculator strategy refers to the use of TI-83 Plus graphing calculator in teaching and learning of Straight Lines topic. The first phase involved one experimental group (n=21) and one control group (n=19) from two Form Four classes in a randomly selected school in Selangor. The experimental group underwent learning using graphing calculator while the control group underwent learning using conventional instruction. Experiment for Phase II was further carried out for six weeks incorporating measures of mathematical performance, mental effort and instructional efficiency. This phase involved two experimental groups (n=33) and two control groups (n=32) from four Form Four classes in one randomly selected school in Malacca. As in Phase I, the same learning conditions were given for both experimental and control groups. Finally, experiment in Phase III was carried out for six weeks incorporating comparison on two levels of mathematics ability (low and average) and two types of instructional strategy (graphing calculator strategy and conventional instruction strategy). Form Four students from one of the schools in Malacca were the sample for Phase III. Altogether there were four groups of students given four learning conditions vis-à-vis: the average mathematical ability given the use of graphing calculators (n=15), the low mathematical ability were also given graphing calculators (n=19), the average mathematical ability were given the conventional instruction (n=16) and the low mathematical ability were also given the conventional instruction (n=20). There were two instruments used in this study namely, Straight Lines Achievement Test and Paas Mental Effort Rating Scale. The data for Phases I and II were analysed using independent t-test and planned comparison test while data for Phase III were analysed using multiple analysis of variance and planned comparison test. The study shows that the graphing calculator instruction enhanced students‟ performance with less mental effort invested during the learning and test phases and hence increased 3-dimensional instructional efficiency index in learning of Straight Lines topic for both groups of low and average mathematics ability. These findings indicated that the graphing calculator instruction is superior in comparison to the conventional instruction, hence implying that it was more efficient instructionally than the conventional instruction strategy. The average mathematics ability group greatly benefited from the graphing calculator instruction as it decreased the amount of mental effort by double than the low mathematics ability group.