PROSPECTIVE MATHEMATICS TEACHERS’ ABILITIES TO EXPLOIT COMPUTER ALGEBRA SYSTEMS
The use of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) in mathematics teaching is growing nowadays. The fundamental mathematical concepts involve difficult and abstract ideas that present a huge obstacle to many students. CAS offer both a possibility and a challenge to present new approaches that support students and their teachers to develop better understanding of these concepts. Therefore CAS can be used to change the emphasis of learning and teaching of concepts away from techniques and routine symbolic manipulation towards higher cognitive facilities that focus on concepts and problem solving.
This article deals with the investigation how are prospective mathematics teachers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia prepared to exploit capabilities of CAS in their future mathematics teaching at both elementary and secondary schools. Namely the study in this paper describes how prospective mathematics teachers understand given mathematics lessons involving the symbolic manipulation capabilities of CAS. According the prospective teachers CAS in fact offer a number of didactic advantages that can be exploited to promote a more active approach to learning. They can become involved in the finding and understanding process without seeing mathematics as only obtaining and keeping in mind algorithms and figures. A further advantage of CAS (according to prospective mathematics teachers) is that CAS allow efficient variation of symbolic constraints and parameters to enable generate and examine many examples and regard them with confidence. These skills enable and motivate experimentation, generalisation and pattern acknowledgement.