An Evaluation of the CAS Pilot Project 2006-2007 Publications
This is the final report on the findings of the CAS project.
Author(s): Alex Neill & Teresa Maguire from New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: August 2008
In 2005, the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority began a pilot programme in six schools to trial the use of the latest generation of calculators, which included Computer Algebraic Systems (CAS) capabilities. The intent was to give quality professional development (PD) to effectively use this new technology in classrooms, and to eventually allow the calculators in CAS-enabled National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) assessments in the same way that graphics calculators currently are used. Both agencies recognised that the introduction of graphics calculators had not been given adequate attention, and that this pilot was a way of addressing this. The pilot also aimed to influence pedagogy towards a more constructivist style. The 2005 pilot was evaluated by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), and its findings have been published (see Neill & Maguire, 2006a, b). The pilot was extended into 2006 and 2007 to include 16 new schools. In their first year, two mathematics teachers and two Year 9 classes from each school took part in the study. The two teachers received PD on effective teaching that utilised the CAS calculators. The major focus of the PD was on algebra, geometry, and probability. In the second year, these same two teachers received more PD aimed at teaching at the Year 10 level, and a second pair of teachers received the Year 9 PD. By the end of the pilot, this meant that each school had four teachers who had received PD and were implementing teaching with the CAS in their Years 9 and 10 classes. Each of these classes would be given the option of sitting a CAS-enabled Level 1 mathematics external exam.
The evaluation The evaluation of the 2006–2007 extension of the pilot was undertaken by NZCER. A multimethod design was used, with both quantitative and qualitative data being collected. The evaluation explored changes to:
- Teaching and learning practices;
- Student achievement; and
- Student and teacher attitudes to the pilot, to technology, and to mathematics.
The study also examined: the contribution of the PD to classroom practices; assessment issues; and sustainability of the project. See Chapter 1 for a list of the research questions. Qualitative data were gathered during visits to all 22 of the schools involved in the pilot, which were visited on at least one occasion. Eight target schools were visited twice, and a wider range of data was collected from these. During all school visits, interviews were held with teachers in the pilot, and classroom observations were conducted. Focus groups of students were also held at each visit to the eight target schools. Baseline questionnaires and follow-up questionnaires that asked their opinions of the pilot were also sent to all the teachers in the 2006–2007 pilot. The questionnaires gave both qualitative and quantitative information.
Quantitative information was collected from each student in the 2006–2007 pilot. Each school also provided two control classes of students that were matched to the CAS classes at each year level. This allowed comparisons to be made in changes of attitudes and achievement levels between students who had, or had not, been involved in the pilot. Achievement levels were obtained for each student both pre- and post-pilot. Students also responded to a pre- and postquestionnaire on their attitudes to schools; mathematics; the pedagogical approach of teachers; and technology.
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