Date of Award

5-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Instructional Technology and Educational Studies

Major Professor

P. Mark Taylor

Committee Members

Mary Jane Connelly, Donald J. Dessart, Sharon Husch

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the frequency of Tennessee community college full-time developmental mathematics instructors’ classroom graphics calculator usage (percent of class time) and various personal and professional descriptors of those instructors and the graphics calculator policies at each college: number of years of full-time teaching at community college level, number of years teaching mathematics, level of education, amount of formal (workshop or class participant) professional development with graphics calculators, brand of graphics calculator used by their college, percentage of time a graphics calculator is used in the classroom for calculations, percentage of time a graphics calculator is used in the classroom to depict algebra graphically or numerically (table), percentage of time the graphics calculator is used in each developmental mathematics course (Basic Mathematics, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra), gender, academic rank, number of years their college has used graphics calculators for developmental mathematics, and the graphics calculator policy (not allowed, no policy, recommended, required) at each college for each of the developmental mathematics courses (Basic Mathematics, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra). Data was collected from Tennessee community college mathematics department heads and full-time mathematics faculty members who taught at least one developmental mathematics course each semester (fall and spring) during 2002. The two data collecting instruments were a forced-choice, web-based survey of developmental mathematics instructors and an email-based department head questionnaire.

Descriptive statistics and a Spearman correlation coefficient matrix were used for statistical analyses of the data to answer the six (6) research questions in relation to the thirteen (13) instructor survey questions with included comments and the four (4) department head questionnaire questions. If an instructor were depicted as having all the traits of the majority of the participants’ responses, the following would be “the”Tennesseecommunity college developmental mathematics instructor. This instructor would be a female Associate Professor (fully promoted) with a Masters Degree. She would have been a full-time college faculty member for 15 years or less and would have been teaching mathematics 16 or more years. She would have had 20 or less contact hours of professional development with graphics calculators, and she would used a Texas Instruments graphics calculator in the classroom 0% – 20% of the time.

The correlation matrix indicated the following significant relationships: instructors’ brand of graphics calculator used and instructors’ frequency of graphics calculator usage for all categories (calculations, depicting algebra graphically and numerically (table), and calculator use in Basic Mathematics, Elementary Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra), and instructors’ amount of formal professional development correlated with all frequency of use categories.

Analysis of data from the correlation matrix indicated some significant relationships. Significant correlations emerged from the correlation matrix: among all frequency of use categories, between instructors’ years teaching mathematics and years as a full-time community college faculty member, instructors’ years teaching mathematics and academic rank, instructors’ years as a full-time community college faculty member and academic rank, instructors’ highest degree earned and academic rank, instructors’ highest degree earned and contact hours of formal (workshop or class participant) professional development, instructors’ contact hours of formal workshop professional development and brand of graphics calculator used, instructors’ contact hours of formal workshop professional development and gender, instructors’ contact hours of formal workshop professional development and academic rank, and instructors’ brand of graphics calculator used and academic rank.

Calculator usage policies were derived from the department head responses. Five colleges indicated they have never used graphics calculators in developmental mathematics and six colleges indicated they have used graphics calculators in developmental mathematics for nine or more years.

Like results from analysis of department head questionnaire responses, the comments painted a mural of diversity in choices and thoughts on the use or non-use of graphics calculators in developmental mathematics. The six trends that emerged from participant comments included the following categories: algebra prior to calculator; Basic Mathematics, Elementary Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra; caution; clarification; explanation of use; negative, no use, or limited use; and other questions, topics, and uses. The category, explanation of use, with participants providing an explanation of how they and/or their colleagues use calculators at their colleges was the trend most (10) mentioned; and the category, negative, no use, or limited use, with participants indicating personal, professional, or departmental choices of not using or limiting the use of graphics calculators was next, with eight comments.

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