Conceptual versus Computational Formulae in Calculus and Statistics Courses

By William Rybolt and George Recck.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Introductory quantitative courses in Calculus and Statistics teach students to fit a linear equation to a data set by exposing them the conceptual formulae for the slope and intercept of the line that provides the best least squares fit. Next the students are presented with computational or short cut formulae. These computational formulae take several mathematically equivalent forms. All of these computational formulae serve no useful educational purpose given current computational technology. Students are far better off, whether they are doing the simple calculations by hand or using a worksheet environment like Excel, to use the conceptual formulae for the calculations. Doing the calculations with conceptual formulae may take a little longer, but the extra time will be well spent because the students will be not be exposed to superfluous formulae which exist for legacy reasons.

Keywords: Legacy, Useful, Slope, Intercept, Efficient, Formula

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 218.099KB).

William Rybolt

Assistant Professor, Math/Science, Babson College, Wellesley, MA, USA

Dr. Rybolt has been active in microcomputer applications, cognitive psychology, user/computer interfaces, artificial intelligence, expert systems, and neural networks. He has been a principal in several startups, and consults on applications of emerging technologies to business. His current research includes studying the impact of new Internet technologies on business and education. Areas of expertise include Emerging Technologies, Educational Assessment, and Computer Programming. Dr. Rybolt’s articles have appeared in Journal of Management Information Systems, Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Intelligent Systems Review, Advances in Artificial Intelligence in Economics, Finance and Management, Expert Systems with Applications, and other journals.

George Recck

Director of the Math Resource Center, Math/Science, Babson College, Wellesley, MA, USA

Mr. Recck has taught at Babson College since 1984. Prior to that, Mr. Recck worked his way toward his undergraduate degree from Babson as a Systems Manager in Babson’s Computer Center. He continued his education at Babson rising to Operation Manager while earning his MBA degree. After receiving his MBA from Babson in 1984, Mr. Recck was promoted to Director of Academic Computer Services and began his teaching career shortly thereafter. Mr. Recck has authored a solution manual to accompany a calculus text. In addition, Mr. Recck is also the founder of Total Information, Inc., an information consulting firm specializing in providing service to small businesses.

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