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Calculators - September 30, 2012
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Spiked Math Comic - Calculators

I like torturing my students!  :-D

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The blonde's glasses suddenly appear in third panel.

Oops my bad, guess they are magic glasses!

Or secret calculator-glasses.

I actually appreciated my college calculus teacher imposing that restriction on us. It really helped me actually learn the material rather than learn how to manipulate syntax. The irony, is that the other upper level math professor was the polar opposite and required the use of Mathematica on all exams for his classes. My professor required no calculators for any class except Linear Algebra. (afterall, who wants to row reduce a 6x6 by hand..)

I need a calculator--I'm one of those math students who can't even count.

A Math prof friend told me a story recently about a student who got extra credit for a wrong answer. It seems he forgot the formula, so he re-derived it, in a more efficient form, and then made a small error on calculating it. So he gave extra credit!

IMO making students buy graphing calculators is just as bad as making them buy $150 textbooks. Hardware-wise, they're comparable to an Apple IIe (just more portable) and there are plenty of dramatically superior free alternatives (Sage, etc.), so chances are they'll never use them again once the class is over even if they do go into science.

Problems on my blog CoolMath, while simple to understand for high-school pupils, will be very tough to solve, and some of the problems there will help them understand factors/powers of numbers. No doubt, problems are difficult and geeky there, but they will definitely help students to understand and expand, to be part in something math related (like the olympiads). Please visit cool--math.blogspot.in

We do not allow calculators on our exams and I think that's right:

1) I cannot expect that everyone is able to afford a fancy one. This would give an unfair advantage to the wealthier students, which is what I surely want to avoid.
2) I do not have time and resources to check every device for its capabilities. Where do you stop: a graphical one? One with a database to store whatever? One that can read and display PDF files?
3) Even worse, I cannot make sure whether or not any of these devices can be used for communication, making copying from each other a lot easier.

The only fair way is to ban all electronic devices including cell phones from exams. It is much harder to design exams this way, you always have to make sure that calculations can be carried out on paper with reasonable efforts. But still I think this is the better way.

My prof in Analysis I said: “Yes, you can use calculators in the final exam, i don’t care – because they won’t help you!” And he was right.

But then why is it called "Calc 101" if you can't you calculators??

I think the magic glasses came from the teacher.

When I saw the model number of the calculator, this was the first thing I thought of. http://www.milk.com/wall-o-shame/dish.html

I warn my highschool math students about this all the time! Most local universities/colleges allow only a basic calculator (like the Sharp DAL EL-510R), but there are others that don't allow any at all...it's a real problem amongst highschool instructors, in my opinion - not enough emphasis on being able to visualize/conceptualize before turning to a calculator - especially when graphing (such as when graphing polynomial functions, radical functions, abs. value functions, translations, etc.).

Reminds me of the Asimov story, The Feeling of Power.

In that we're forgetting how to do it, or that if I continue to teach my students how to think mathematically I make them expendable on warships? :)

That we are in danger of forgetting--but that those who still can calculate have a feeling of power over the rest of us.

How many can still program a computer? Particularly writing code?

How many can do it efficiently, yet with sufficient notes to make it comprehensible for debugging and suchlike?

Hey - when did the mouse-over psi start? Haven't been on here for a little bit...

*carries a TI-nSpire CX and a TI-30XA*

"but we're engineers!" LOL

On a calculator related note: the PRAXIS II exam: math content knowledge, the test they make math teachers take to be math teachers, allows ANY graphing calculator. I used my ti-89...calculator could have taken test without me. Yet for some reason phone weren't allowed in building, because that would have been cheating...lol

Depends where you are...at the Canadian University I attended, I had a BSc in Math before moving on to get my teaching certificate: for undergrad degrees at most Canadian universities, either only a simple calculator is allowed (in my case the Sharp DAL EL-510R) or in some cases no calculator at all is permitted for undergrad math classes!

I was refereeing to the state tests, not uni requirements. What is really scary is that on a test of at most high school math, scored 100-200, a oassing score in a state like new jersey is 134...and thst is on the high side. given the middle 50% scored something like 115-160 while using graphing calculators of unrestrained power and uncleared memories, it makes you wonder how so many fail...

Even cheating takes some smarts?

We couldn't use anything more than a basic scientific calculator when I took a stats class - trying to use it to construct an ANOVA table was ridiculously frustrating because a single missed keypress tends to destroy the whole table.

It's not one bit hard to create exams to be written without calculators. There shouldn't be any calculations more complex than base arithmetic in any exam for math students. And there's no need to let students row-reduce a 6x6-matrix by hand. Give them a 4x4 with some zeros and some variables and you will see, if they understood.

And of course, graphical and CAS calculators are stupid. Buy a netbook or tablet or subnotebook and use good software!

As a finance student, I have not once been allowed to use a financial calculator in an exam. Given that Excel etc. can replicate their functions, I wonder why they even make them.

You can use finance calculators the SOA financial math exam, actually all the starting exams if memory serves.

Does the professor allow slide rules?

Just a reminder, *THOSE calculators

I bought a TI-84 in 8th grade, and a TI-89 my junior year of high school. My first semester of college, I had to ask my mom to send me my TI-84 because one of my professors didn't allow 89s on exams, and I'd just brought that one because I liked it better.
I do feel like I have a slightly unfair advantage having an 89 in some classes where professors don't specify which calculators we're allowed to use, though-but some of that comes in non-math courses, and the advantage also comes from having taken advanced math (e.g. I don't need to memorize rate laws in chemistry because I can solve differential equations).

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Hello my fellow math geeks. My name is Mike and I am the creator of Spiked Math Comics, a math comic dedicated to humor, educate and entertain the geek in you. Beware though, there might be some math involved :D

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