Creating meaning for and with the graphing calculator

Helen M. Doerr, Roxana Zangor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


In this study, we seek to describe how the meaning of a tool was co-constructed by the students and their teacher and how the students used the tool to construct mathematical meaning out of particular tasks. We report the results of a qualitative, classroom-based study that examined (1) the role, knowledge and beliefs of a pre-calculus teacher, (2) how students used graphing calculators in support of their learning of mathematics, (3) the relationship and interactions between the teacher's role, knowledge and beliefs and the students' use of the graphing calculator in learning mathematics, and (4) some constraints of the graphing calculator technology that emerged within the classroom practice. We found five patterns and modes of graphing calculator tool use emerged in this practice: computational tool, transformational tool, data collection and analysis tool, visualizing tool, and checking tool. The results of this study suggest that nature of the mathematical tasks and the role, knowledge and beliefs of the teacher influenced the emergence of such rich usage of the graphing calculator. We also found that the use of the calculator as a personal device can inhibit communication in a small group setting, while its use as a shared device supported mathematical learning in the whole class setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-163
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Graphing calculator
  • Pre-calculus
  • Teacher knowledge
  • Technology
  • Tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • Education


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