Calculating the value of graphing calculators for seventh-grade students with and without disabilities

Jun 27, 2013, 14:52 PM
Bouck, E. C. (2009). Calculating the value of graphing calculators for seventh-grade students with and without disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 30(4), 207-215.

Characteristics

  • This study investigated the effectiveness of allowing the use of a graphing calculator as an accommodation on math tests for students with and without disabilities.
  • Forty 7th grade students in two inclusive math classes participated in the study.
  • Thirteen participants were students with disabilities; the majority of whom were classified as students with learning disabilities.

Setting

  • This study took place in a rural middle school located in the Midwestern U.S.

Method

  • Students took two math assessments during the study.
  • All students completed the first math assessment without the use of a calculator.
  • After four weeks, students completed a posttest version of the math assessment.
  • For the posttest, two classes were randomly assigned to the condition where they were able to use a graphic calculator as an accommodation and two classes completed it without the use of a calculator.
  • Both assessments were 28 problem tests that focused on problem solving items pertaining to number and operation strand.

Results

  • Students who had access to a graphing calculator got more items on the posttest correct than students who did not have access to a calculator.
  • Although students with disabilities did benefit slightly from access to a graphing calculator, their nondisabled peers who had access to a calculator appeared to benefit more from the accommodation.
  • All students attempted more items when given access to a graphing calculator.
  • An analysis of individual item responses revealed that, even with access to a graphing calculator, many students with disabilities were unable to identify the correct method to solve problems and often ended up adding whatever numbers were in the problem together.
  • This suggests that access to a graphing calculator did not “level the playing field” for students with disabilities when attempting to solve math problem-solving questions; however, it did lead to some improvement in performance on the posttest.
Categories:
  • Math
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