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Calculator Policy:

Your high-school math courses probably encouraged you to use calculators, and indeed may have included instruction for the use of calculators. Since high-school math is primarily concerned with computational techniques, this is an appropriate and valuable practice.

Our course will focus more on understanding the foundations of the calculus than your high-school math courses did (see the statement of course philosophy), and so we are less concerned with the computational aspects of the topic and more concerned about the conceptual ones. Calculators will not play a role in this class, and you will not be permitted to use graphing or programmable calculators during in-class quizzes and exams. (You may use them on your homework and WeBWorK assignments, however.)

For in-class quizzes and exams, you may use a scientific calculator that is not a graphing or programmable one. Such a calculator will be able to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, roots, exponentiation, trigonometric functions, and logarithms, but nothing more complicated than that. Calculators of this sort usually are available at the college bookstore for under $15.

There are several reasons for this policy. First, since we do not enforce a calculator standard on campus, there are a variety of models in use, and this puts some students at a disadvantage (principally driven by economics). Second, as calculators become more advanced, it is more and more difficult to provide questions that are appropriate for use both with a calculator and without one; limiting the use of calculators seems the most practical solution, as this at least puts everyone on an even footing. Third, preparation to use a particular piece of technology is not a goal of this course; indeed any such preparation would probably be obsolete by the time you graduated. Finally, many graphing calculators have sophisticated calculus techniques built in, and using such features tends to obscure rather than illuminate the underlying methods and concepts, which are the main focus of this course.

[HOME] Math 115 (Fall 2011) web pages
Created: 02 Sep 2011
Last modified: 02 Sep 2011
Comments to: dpvc@union.edu
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