Technology in Mathematics Education: A Descriptive Study of the Availability and Uses of Calculators and Computers in Public High School Mathematics Classes in the State of Virginia
The purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate the availability and distribution of calculators and computers for the mathematics classes in public high schools across the State of Virginia; examine professional development activities used by teachers to prepare for the use of calculators and computers in the classroom; explore factors that may guide and influence mathematics teachers in the use of calculators and computers; examine the familiarity and degree of influence assigned by teachers to documents advocating technology use in mathematics education; determine in which SOL courses - Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Math Analysis, Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, Probability & Statistics, and Computer Mathematics - calculators and computers are being used, as well as the frequency and type of usage; and explore the ways in which teachers have incorporated the use of calculators and computers into mathematics courses, as well as the problems overcome and successes which have resulted.
The study surveyed the mathematics department heads from 80 public high schools from school divisions located throughout the State of Virginia through the use of a self-administered mail questionnaire. From these questionnaires, the data gathered about calculator and computer availability, factors influencing teachers' professional development, and actual usage in SOL courses were analyzed to provide a picture of the current state of technology use in the high school mathematics programs of these high schools. Results from this study indicate that: (1) Through funding provided by the State of Virginia, adequate quantities of graphing calculators and computers exist for use by students in mathematics classes; (2) the widespread use of graphing calculators in the classroom is being driven by the Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools; computer use is more limited, despite the availability of computers in classroom and lab settings; and (3) teachers are reported as wanting more professional development activities designed for incorporating calculator and computer use into the classroom, but have taken only limited advantage of existing opportunities, preferring to use self-training and school or division in-service activities to satisfy their needs.