Date of Graduation

5-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Mathematical Sciences

Advisor

Bernard L. Madison

Committee Member

Mark Arnold

Second Committee Member

Shannon W. Dingman

Third Committee Member

Nama Namakshi

Keywords

Apps in Education, College Algebra, Mathematics Education, Mathematics Undergraduate Education, Technology in Mathematics Education

Abstract

This mixed qualitative and quantitative methods study addressed the effect of technology on college algebra and survey of calculus students’ understanding. This research study was conducted in fall 2016 on eight college algebra classes with a total of 315 students, and in summer 2017, on two survey of calculus classes with a total of 40 students at the University of Arkansas.

Several sources were used to collect data. A pre- and post- student attitude survey was administered during the first and last week of the semester for both college algebra and survey of calculus courses. Students’ scores and paper work on three written tests (review test 1, review test 2 and concept test) in college algebra and students’ scores and paper work on two written tests (review test 1 and review test 2) in survey of calculus were collected. The concept test was the only paper test normally administered in college algebra. Quantitative and qualitative data analysis enabled discussion of the effect of technology on students’ understanding and organization of their work. This research study was guided by the following research questions.

1. How does the use of technology affect college algebra and calculus students’ understanding and performance?

2. What areas of college algebra and calculus are affected more by technology?

3. How does using technology affect the organization of college algebra and calculus students’ written work?

4. Does the use of technology positively impact college algebra and calculus students’ attitudes toward their mathematics skills?

The results from the study exposed evidence that use of technology (handheld graphing calculators, online graphing utility Desmos, and smartphone apps) in teaching and learning increased college algebra students’ understanding of several concepts such as domain, vertical and horizontal asymptotes, end behavior of a function, and logarithmic functions. In addition, college algebra students’ skills such as logical reasoning, use of graph, organization including written order, and correct use of notation and symbols were significantly increased when they used technology. Survey of calculus students’ understanding increased in several topics such as finding maximum/minimum for two variable functions, limits, and definite integrals when they used technology in their class activities and on written tests.

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