**CAL as a Resource in
Mathematics Teaching **

**Report of the
Working Group: **

Peter Edwards (Chair), Bournemouth University

Alasdair MacKay (Recorder), Glasgow Caledonian University

Prab Bhatt, Glasgow University

Dexter Booth, Huddersfield University

David Emery, Staffordshire University

Christine Harvey, Bournemouth University

Rowena Bowles, University College, London

Peter Kahn, Liverpool Hope University

The report for which this is the abstract can be found in the *Proceedings
of the 1996 Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching Conference*, published by The
Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education, University of
Nottingham, pp. 86 - 96

**Abstract /
Introduction**

With the advent of computers into Higher Education over a quarter of a century ago, many mathematics lecturers realised that the computer could be a useful tool in enhancing their students' learning experience. Early attempts at such enhancement centred mainly on removing arithmetic drudgery. For example, a simple program to evaluate successive iterations of a Newton-Raphson problem, taking perhaps no more than ten-lines of code, obviated the need for hand-calculation and allowed the lecturer to concentrate more on the underlying process and theory - a mathematical point could be made more effectively since the computer removed the less important, but more time-consuming, element of the learning process. Such simple programs may appear unsophisticated by today's standards, but, nevertheless, represented the beginnings of computer aided learning (CAL).

Early attempts at CAL were restricted by the capability of contemporary computer hardware and, consequently, the computer software. Computers with 'slow' processors and restricted memory and disc space led invariably to the production of unappealing alphanumeric presentations on monochrome screens. With the advent of high-powered desktop computers with fast processors, large amounts of memory and disc space, it has become possible to produce eye-catching multimedia presentations that can add interest and enjoyment to even the most mundane of mathematical topics. Such CAL presentations can help the student learn and 'experience' many mathematical processes and applications through, for example, dynamic animation and graphic output. Further, students can invariably better control their speed of learning with modern CAL by being able to interact with the software through the use of the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) environment.

With ever-increasing pressures on resources (for example, enforced reductions in teaching staff, increasing numbers of weaker students, together with the requirements of accrediting institutions), it is imperative that the students' learning experience is not impoverished. Set against this background, CAL is seen as one further medium to help students to learn and understand mathematics.