"Should students do algebra when computer algebra systems can do it for them?"
Paul Strickland & Dhiya Al-Jumeily (*)
Liverpool John Moores University
School of Computing and mathematical sciences, Byron street
Liverpool JM University, L3 3AF
United Kingdom
E-mail:D.Aljumeily@livjm.ac.uk
Conventional hand-held calculators, available widely in schools and
universities from the 1970s, extended the range of numerical calculation
that could be attempted in mathematics nd science teaching. However, in the
UK at least, it has been seen as necessary to ensure that children are able
to calculate for themselves before they become reliant on electronic devices.
Teaching using computer algebra systems (CAS) enables us to give students
access to harder, more life-like, problems; if a CAS is directed
appropriately (for example getting DERIVE to add a value to both sides of an
equation, or perform an integration), the learner can find solutions even if
they cannot themselves perform the underlying manipulations.
We ask the questions who should learn basic algebraic manipulation? And how
can computer algebra systems be utilized in the teaching of traditional
algebra skills? We also present evaluative work based on our own CAS,
TREEFROG, which enables drill-and-practice examples to be attempted with
immediate, and ultimately intelligent, feedback.