Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Nature of Classroom Dynamics in High School Mathematics Classes Where Graphing Calculators are Used




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Several studies have shown mixed findings about the roles of teachers in technology-enriched classrooms. Doerr and Zangor (2000), Farrell (1996), and Slavit (1996) found that teachers assume the roles of fellow investigator, facilitator, and consultant when they teach with graphing calculators while Goos, Galbraith, Renshaw, and Geiger (2003) reported mixed results as did Tharp et al. (1997). This study investigated the nature of classroom dynamics in high school mathematics classes where graphing calculators were used. Data were collected through classroom observations. Analysis of the data revealed that the nature of classroom discourse tended to influence the role for which the graphing calculators were used. I found four of the five roles of graphing calculator use discussed by Doerr and Zangor (2000). These findings can be summarized in two major results: (1) Teacher directed lessons were characterized by teachers demonstrating specific calculator functions, making decisions about particular calculator settings, and correcting student errors and/or confirming solutions. On the other hand, lessons involving student exploration were characterized by teachers involving students in decision making regarding calculator use, guiding students in refining their thinking with regard to calculator use, and challenging students to interpret calculator results in the context of the problem situation and communicating this understanding to the whole class.(2) During student explorations the graphing calculator was mainly used as a visualization tool, a checking tool, or a data collection and analysis tool. During teacher directed sessions the graphing calculator was mainly used as a computational tool.

Conference Name

PME-NA 2010 Annual Conference

Conference Location

Columbus, Ohio

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