"The TI-92 as a Vehicle for Teaching Algebraic Thinking"
Edward S. Miller *
Laura Bracken *
Lewis-Clark State College
This presentation illustrates the impact of the changing technological
playing field has on the balance between the need for fast manual
algorithms and the depth of conceptual understanding which students may
achieve. The central example will be the controversial issue of factoring.
Factoring polynomials over the integers has been programmed into the
TI-92. Some would argue that this makes the teaching of factoring
obsolete. A better inference is that students need not learn fast
algorithms as a vehicle for solving equations or reducing fractions; they
may now learn one or two algorithms and concentrate on what factoring is
together with its role in the manipulation of algebraic objects. We as
mathematics teachers are now free to use the power of the properties of
rings (of real numbers, polynomials, continuous functions) in intermediate
algebra or earlier.