Context: I am an associate professor at a small liberal arts institution in the US.
I find in my introductory business math course that students sometimes fail to buy a calculator for the course, despite my frequent reminders. Rather, they get by with their phone calculator or with help from their friends during lessons and on homework. This means that when an exam comes, they are not prepared to use a proper calculator, nor do they have one for the exam.
Typically it is my weakest students who fall into this category, so this problem exacerbates the gap between the strongest and weakest students.
Ideally, students would be confident using a real calculator to accurately compute functions involving parentheses, logs, and exponents. I recommend that students purchase a TI-30XIIS or similar, although they are allowed to use any calculator that doesn't have CAS capabilities.
Does anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with this? Here's what I see as my options:
- Keep a few spare calculators for students to borrow during exams. This has the added benefit of helping those who legitimately forget their calculator on exam day, have their batteries die, etc. (This is what I currently do. I tell students that I am happy to show them any computations before the exam, but I can't show them anything about a calculator once the exam is started.)
- Do the same thing as #1, but "tax" students some amount of points or provide some other disincentive for borrowing one of my calculators. (I had a high school teacher who would make you leave one of your shoes at her desk if you wanted to borrow something from her--the embarrassment/inconvenience incentivized students to remember their stuff.)
- Require that students bring a calculator to class every day, and penalize them some small amount of participation credit for not doing so.