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Title: A critical appraisal of the differences between high-stakes terminal mathematics examinations that require the use of computer algebra systems and those where this technology is prohibited
Author: Kemp, Andrew David
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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In recent years within the field of Mathematics Education, the role of technology has been an area of intense interest. Surprisingly the impact of technology use on assessment has been less considered. This thesis explores the differences between two high-stakes examinations, one where the use of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) is required, and one where CAS is prohibited. Key questions in this comparison explore the extent to which CAS would trivialize current assessments, whether CAS-required assessments necessitate more high-level thinking, and whether CAS has a more pronounced impact upon certain topic areas. To address these questions, a content analysis methodology was adopted. Texts for comparison were questions from two examination bodies; the Australian VCAA board, which has a CAS-required examination, and the English MEI group, which has a CASprohibited examination. Test items [n=370] from VCAA and MEI examination papers covering 2009-2011 were categorised according to two criteria. Firstly according to the level of impact of CAS-use using the categories: CAS-Proof, CAS-Optional, CAS-Trivial and CAS-Essential. Secondly according to the level of conceptual difficulty using three levels Mechanical, Interpretive and Constructive based on a variant of Bloom’s Taxonomy. When comparing these CAS and non-CAS examinations, a similar distribution of questions across the levels of impact and cognitive difficulty scales was found, with the exception of calculus questions where a significantly larger proportion of questions in non- CAS examination were of a mechanical nature and considered CAS-Trivial. CAS offers the potential to enable a radical rewrite of school mathematics and of assessment practice. However in this study the impact of assumed CAS-use on the test items studied appeared to be quite restricted. Given the critical place of assessment in school mathematics, understanding the differences CAS-required and CAS-prohibited assessments in similar syllabi makes a useful original contribution to researching use of this technology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB Theory and practice of education ; QA Mathematics