Is it worth using CAS

Robyn Pierce, Lynda Ball and Kaye Stacey have written an article called Is it worth using CAS  for symbolic algebra manipulation in the middle secondary years? Some teachers’ views. The article was published online in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education on Thursday. Here is the abstract of their article:

The use of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) in years 9 and 10 classrooms as a tool to support learning or in preparation for senior secondary mathematics is controversial. This paper presents an analysis of the positive and negative aspects of using CAS identified in the literature related to these year levels, along with the perceptions of 12 experienced secondary teachers who were working with years 9 and 10 students. The literature review shows that CAS is valued for calculation and manipulation capabilities, the option of alternative representations, the opportunity for systematic exploration and for prompting rich discussion. However, the technical overhead, initial workload for the teacher and unresolved questions about the perceived relative contribution of machine and by-hand work to learning currently pose obstacles to teaching with CAS in the middle secondary years. The teachers who contributed data to this study perceived that using CAS in their teaching is, on balance, worth the effort. However, they believed that CAS is of most benefit to their high ability students and may present an obstacle to their low ability students’ learning of mathematics.

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