You could enter just about any high school classroom in the United States and find students using a calculator. A number of students use expensive calculators with advanced features, like the ones from Texas Instrument, which are pretty commonplace in the classroom, usually starting around middle school. These mini computer, which often run for about $100, are also found in a number of home offices, and some calculators serve as mementos for students who have recently completed their SATs or Advanced Placement calculus exams.
However, when it comes to using calculators in college, professors can’t seem to get on one accord. A number of college instructors wants students to use pencil and paper in math class to ensure they understand the concepts. According to a national survey from 2010 by the Mathematical Association of America, about 50% of all Calculus 1 college professionals don’t all students to use graphic calculators for exams.
The calculator debate has been going on for about forty years, which is almost as long as modern calculators have been around. Previously, the abacus was the counting tool used for accuracy, and in 1958, Jack Kilby from Texas Instrument invented the integrated circuit. This made is easier to use affordable and extremely small computer chips in many of the handheld technological devices we use today. Later, Kilby won the Nobel Prize for physics. Prices for graphic calculators have gone down slightly as well; from about $100 to around $80.
Those who support the use of technology in the classroom say that calculators with algebraic symbols reduce the need for students to memorize certain mathematical formulas. This could make figuring out math problems less time consuming. However, others in the educational system think that depending on calculators will reduce students’ understanding of mathematical algorithms.