The effect of the hand-held calculator on mathematics achievemnet, attitude and self concept of sixth grade students

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the hand-held calculator on the mathematics achievement, attitude and self-concept of sixth grade students. It further attempted to compare achievement, attitude and self-concept between female and male students using the calculator with those performing without the calculator.

The sample consisted of six intact sixth grade classes (171 students). Two classes using hand-held calculator (experimental group) involved 113 students and one class using paper and pencil only (control group) involved fifty-eight students. The groups were located in two schools in two different school districts. A random selection identified the classes as experimental or control. Each treatment period was fifty-five to sixty minutes daily for a duration of nine weeks.

Science Research Associates Assessment Survey, Form E scores were used as pretest data. Posttest data included form F of SRA, an Attitude Toward Arithmetic Scale and The Piers/Harris Children's Self Concept Scale. A Multivariate Analysis of Variance was used to analyze data obtained and to test the hypothesis. F tests were used, whenever appropriate, to determine the significance of the pretest-posttest differences for both treatment and sex.

Findings of this study indicated that students using calculators demonstrated significant gains (P<0.001) in total mathematics achievement, computation and concepts and there were significant differences between female and male students on concept scores. No significant differences were found between female and male in: (1) total mathematics achievement, (2) computation, (3) attitudes or (4) self-concept nor were any differences found in: (1) attitudes or (2) self-concept of all students .

Ten students in the control group admitted that they had used calculators at home during the experiment. A separate multivariate analysis of covariance excluding these ten students, was used to determine if the same results would be obtained. No significant differences were found when these students were dropped from the analysis.

The following conclusions were drawn from the findings. Using hand-held calculators was more effective in total mathematics achievement, computation and concepts than using pencil and paper only. Further concept scores between females and males were affected in favor of the experimental females.

Further research is recommended to determine if calculators would serve as a motivational source for slow students and be more effective with low income, primary students. It also appears that there is a need for mathematics educators to develop new instruments for measuring the effectiveness of technologically produced instructional aids.