The use of calculators in the mathematics classroom has been a topic of intense debate among educators and policy-makers alike around the world. In Singapore, from 2009, the use of calculators were allowed in the mathematics examination in the Primary School Leaving Examination, a national examination taken by all students near the end of their sixth year in primary school. Accordingly, since 2008, calculators were introduced to primary 5 pupils in Singapore. The purpose of this study was to examine primary school teachers' perceptions of the use of calculators in the mathematics classroom. This study is a strand of a larger study which aims to achieve a preliminary understanding of teachers' acceptance of this initiative and their perception of the usefulness of calculators in achieving desirable educational outcomes. For the purposes of this study, all Primary 3 to 6 mathematics teachers in a randomly selected primary school were asked for their responses to a questionnaire designed by the researcher. Twelve follow-up interviews were conducted to get more insights into some of the issues. About two-thirds of the respondents supported the use of calculators in the primary mathematics classrooms and indicated that the calculator is a technological tool that reduces time spent in tedious computational work and in turn increases students' motivation in mathematics. Most of those who had reservations felt that calculators would hinder the learning of pencil-and-paper computational skills and algorithms, though they realized that calculators are not too complicated and difficult for the students to handle.
Wee Leng Ng, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
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