Calculators in MHCC Mathematics Classes

Calculator Philosophy

The MHCC mathematics department believes that in today's technologically advanced society the emphasis of mathematics education should be the concepts and applications, rather than the algorithms, of mathematics. Calculator models that are intuitive and easy-to-use with the appropriate features and functions for a particular mathematics level, permit and compliment this focus. The recommended calculators are used in classroom demonstrations with the operational features taught in context. Estimations and other basic skills are required in order to compliment judicious calculator use.

"Which calculator should I buy?"

Math 60, 65, 80, 85, 95 and 111 require graphing calculator. The TI-83 or TI-83 Plus is the recommended calculator. The TI-83 is used for all in-class demonstrations. The TI-82 is an acceptable substitute (unless the student is planning to take the statistics sequence: Math 243 and Math 244). All other graphing calculators (including other TI's) are not preferred because they do not have some of the features that we regularly use.

Any calculator that is equipped with a Computer Algebra System (CAS) i.e. symbol manipulation capability, will not be allowed in any course below Math 112. Examples of CAS calculators are TI-89 and TI-92, Casio AlgFX2.0 and FX 2.0, and HP 49, along with many calculators from other manufacturers.

The TI-81 is not appropriate for any math class as it does not have adequate features.

If you have not yet purchased a calculator, buy the TI-83 or TI-83 Plus. The TI-85 and TI-86, TI-89 and TI-92 are not better (they just have higher numbers). If other calculators have been purchased it might be advantageous to return the other calculator and purchase the TI-83 or TI-83 Plus.

If a different graphing calculator is already owned, the course may be more difficult and that the amount of assistance learning their calculator depends on how much the instructor knows and on available time.

Math 10 requires a calculator with at least a two line display, fraction capability, algebraic logic, and playback (the ability to recall expressions). The recommended calculator for Math 10 is either the TI-30X-IIS or the TI-30x-IIB (the S model is a solar/battery hybrid and the B is battery only).

(* A good test to see if a calculator has algebraic logic is to compute a square root. If you push the square root key before the number, you probably have algebraic logic, otherwise you do not. Also, look for the negative key. Algebraic logic calculators tend to have a key like (-), while others have a +/- key.)

Math 20 requires a calculator with at least a two line display, fraction capability, algebraic logic, and playback (the ability to recall expressions). The recommended calculator for math 20 is either the TI-30X-IIS, the TI-30X-IIB, the TI-83 or the TI-83 Plus. If you are coming from Math 10, there is no need to change calculators. If you are planning to take only Math 20, then the TI-30X-II is cheaper and easier to learn. If you might go on to Math 60, you will need the graphing calculator anyway, and it might be easier (and certainly cheaper overall) to just purchase the TI-83. However, if you don't have the financial ability now, or are terribly intimidated by the calculator, the TI-30X-II is perfectly acceptable.

Math 112 requires a graphing calculator. The TI-83, TI-83 Plus or the IT-89 are the recommended calculators. Math 251, 252, 253, 254 and 256 require the TI-89 calculator. Math 243 and 244 require a TI-83 Plus

"What calculator skills are/not taught?"

The course outlines includes many topics which can be supplemented with the calculator or which are specific abilities in using the calculator. Because we have tried to keep the outline non-specific regarding the calculator buttons, the list below was compiled should or should not know from previous courses.

Thus, it is expected that instructors will teach the "Expected" calculator competencies in the specified course. The "Optional/Under Discussion" topics can be covered as time and instructor preference permit. It is assumed that students coming through Mt. Hood's Math Curriculum have covered the expected competencies in previous courses. However, not all students have taken a previous class here at Mt. Hood and may have differing backgrounds in calculator usage.

The TI-83 class (Math 7) is available early in the term during a single weekend. If a student is starting Math 95 or higher with little to no calculator experience, this might be a valid option. We do not recommend this course for students below Math 95 because they do not have an adequate mathematical background to understand much of what is covered in the course. The calculator is taught in Math 20 and 60 as if they had never used it before.


All calculator competencies should be taught in context as the need for that tool arises in the course.

Be sure to notice the DO NOT USE!!!! list at the bottom of the last page. The mathematics faculty have agreed not to use the following calculator abilities in any circumstance.

The specifics in this document refer to the TI-83 / TI-83 Plus calculator. However, students with other calculators should be able to use their calculators as listed.














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 Last Modified: 11/6/2009 08:03:35 AM