Literature review on the use of computer algebra systems in calculus instruction

Annotated List of References

by Lisa Denise Murphy

The literature I found falls into three broad categories:

These are opinion pieces about what is wrong with calculus instruction and/or what the writer thinks should be done. Reports of conference procedings frequently contain a lot of cheerleading, such as transcripts of speeches. Often reports of working groups and task forces can be considered organized cheerleading, since they seldom go as far as implementing their suggestions, and they don't give proof that the ideas actually work. Cheerleading generally is written by men who have attained the sorts of positions that encourage people to listen to them, such as chairs of departments at major universities and presidents of mathematical or educational associations. These articles form a diary of the calculus reform movement, and some of them contain very good ideas.

What I did on my summer vacation
These are reports of projects that have been developed, or are being developed, at colleges and universities where calculus is taught. The papers usually describe in detail what has been done and what is planned, often with some informal analysis of how well it appears to be working. They are generally written by the men who have developed the materials and used them in classrooms. There is some interesting history in here; the oldest reference I have is to a computer-based calculus text written in 1970.

Scientific studies
These are detailed reports of statistical analyses and in-depth interviews, analyzing the success of some new project in comparison to a control group learning calculus in a more traditional way. Sometimes the author had a hand on creating the project under study, but often not. Most of the scientific studies I have found are PhD dissertations written by women.

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This page last revised February 3, 1999.