Currently, IB Mathematics students can use a graphing calculator in some, or all, of their external examination, depending on the course. Similarly, AP Calculus allows students to use a graphing calculator for only part of the examination. All examinations are written by hand on paper.
Before the advent of full-time access to laptops in the classroom, the system worked well, and students could use their calculator as an exploration tool, and for modelling situations as well as an aid in examinations. Now, however, they are an inferior tool for both modelling and exploration, and tend to be used almost exclusively for tests and exams, as well as homework assignments. As a result, students are not as familiar with the calculators as they need to be, and have paid up to $150, purely to fulfill the material requirements of the exam. I should stop here as this topic was the focus of my previous post.
So how can examinations be set up so that candidates have appropriate access to current tools, but also not be given tempting opportunities to indulge in academic dishonesty?
I would like to see the IB DP and AP examinations take place through computers or i-pads. Once the candidate presses the “START” button, the exam application closes internet access, and goes into kiosk (full screen) mode and the student cannot get out of that screen, until they reach the end of the examination. When modelling questions that require a calculator occur, a calculator application pops up and is available to the candidate. The candidate can copy and paste images into the examination.
Such an examination would require a tablet facility though (or even an embedded application such as Dabbleboard), so students can sketch and accurately draw graphs, and write mathematical working freehand where necessary. A MathType application could also be constantly available in the exam “kiosk”.
I cannot imagine that any of this is not currently possible. I suppose the main issues are accessibility to computers, or i-pads in the less affluent parts of the world.
What do you think?