Academic journal article The Journal of Developing Areas

Teaching Probability with Graphic Calculator Instructional Approach

Academic journal article The Journal of Developing Areas

Teaching Probability with Graphic Calculator Instructional Approach

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Most students view Mathematics as a subject with many rules to memorise for them to solve mathematical problems, and the subject requires tedious, complex and boring calculations (Waits & Demana, 1999). Educators and researchers alike have found that teaching and learning Mathematics is becoming an increasingly challenging task, and thus, they are searching and trying out new pedagogies to improve the effectiveness of their teaching, particularly in approaching students with different abilities and levels. Some studies have also found that the adoption of a teaching approach, particularly one that involves information and communication technology (ICT), does leave an impact to students' learning because ICT makes learning Mathematics a richer and more experimental experience as students learn new content and pay greater attention to the processes that are not possible to be shown/explored without ICT (Heugl, 2004; Mkomange, Chukwuekezie, Zergani, & Ajagbe, 2013). Educators have adopted/incorporated educational technologies such as LEGO, Foldit, Mathway and Mathcad into their classes with the aim to improve and enhance students' understanding of complex Mathematical concepts. Moreover, technology has helped to enhance interactions among the students and their teachers. It also helps students to be independent learners (Mkomange et al., 2013). The adoption and integration of technologies into Mathematics classrooms include the use of graphic calculators (GC). Researchers have found some positive effects that could be gained from the adoption and integration of GC into the Mathematics curriculum, namely students' improved performance in algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus (Arnold, 2008; Nor'ain, Rohani, Wan Zah, & Mohd. Majid, 2011; Ocak, 2008; Spinato, 2011). However, most of the studies that looked at the use of GCs were conducted in developed countries and focused mostly on the effectiveness of its adoption in general instead of examining its effects on students with different levels of achievement. Moreover, limited research has been done on its adoption and integration in developing countries such as Malaysia, particularly Probability in its institutes of higher learning. The adoption and integration of GCs into the Malaysian curriculum and classrooms have been found to be limited too. This may be due to the fact that GC is a relatively new educational technology in Malaysian Mathematics education and its adoption is at its infant stage (Nor'ain et al., 2011).

The objective of this research is to examine the effects of the adoption of GC instructional approach on students' Probability performance, particularly students of different achievement levels.

LITERATURE REVIEW

One of the main issues in Mathematics education in many different nations is the unsatisfactory achievements. It is evident in some countries; for example, in the United States, students' performance in Mathematics has been recorded to be below average (Fields, 2005); in Hong Kong, most students were found to be weak in plotting and reading graphs (Leong, 2006), and in Chile, the Mathematics achievement in TIMSS1999 was very low (Ramirez, 2005). Similarly, Malaysia is facing the same problem. Malaysia's ranking in Mathematics in TIMSS 2011 (TIMSS 2011 International Results in Mathematics, 2013) dropped from the 20th spot in 2007 to 26th spot in 2011, and the average score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 in 2011. Students perceive Mathematics as the most difficult subject to learn, particularly Probability, and they lack the confidence to solve mathematical questions (Effandi & Normah, 2009). Okello (2010) notes that students have the mind set that Mathematics involves complex formulae which are difficult to grasp, and this causes them to perform poorly in the subject. In addition, many are unable to relate their Mathematics knowledge with real life scenario, resulting in students not being able to understand the practicality and importance of Mathematics in their lives. …

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