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The attitude and achievement of tenth grade general mathematics students as effected by the use of desk calculators Humphries, Leslie Rae

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine whether the use of a desk calculator in a grade ten general mathematics class would produce a positive change in a pupil’s attitude toward mathematics, to see if achievement in quantitative thinking (problem solving) would be increased, and to see if there was a correlation between any such changes. Two teachers, each having two classes of grade ten general mathematics, taught an experimental and a control class. The experimental classes were instructed in the use of desk calculators, and encouraged to use the calculators to arrive at solutions to a prearranged program in mathematics. The control groups were taught in a similar manner, but did not have access to desk calculators. The classes were pre-tested and post-tested for attitude and achievement. A Mathematics Attitude Test was constructed which yields (1) a "Preference for Calculation" score, (2) a "Preference for Quantitative Thinking" (Problem Solving) score, and (3) a composite "Mathematics Attitude" score. The test comprised sixteen three-part situations consisting of (A), a calculation situation, (B), a quantitative thinking (problem solving) situation, and a distracter, (C), a non-mathematical activity. The pupils were asked to state a like and a dislike among the three offered. On item analysis using biserial r, all but one of the items proved satisfactory. When using the Spearman-Brown prophecy formula for estimating reliability, the reliability was found to be sufficient for differentiating between means of groups, but not sufficient for differentiation of individual differences. Analysis of Covariance was used to compare the groups for a significant positive change in attitude, and also for a significant improvement in achievement. The correlation of a suspected positive change in attitude and improvement in achievement was checked for significance. At the 0.05 level, there was no significant change in attitude and no significant change in achievement. At the 0.08 level, however, there was a significant improvement in achievement. There was no significant correlation of a positive change in attitude and improvement in achievement. The conclusion drawn was that the use of a desk calculator makes no significant change in attitude, but perhaps might change achievement with a carefully planned program. No correlation of a positive change in attitude and achievement was found. The attitude test constructed may, with modifications, be of use to other experimenters.

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