Why use calculators?

The process of learning involves engaging what is called cognitive system 2. This is what the learner experiences as hard-work and effort, and it positively correlates with learning success. A skilled teacher is able to increase the amount of effort students invest into learning new concepts, i.e., their “cognitive load budget”. One of the best ways to achieve this is by motivating your students.

Relatable and applicable assignments play a key role in motivation. A good tactic is to choose exercises that showcase the usefulness of the concepts being taught. This way, you increase the students’ intrinsic motivation while answering the ever-recurring question: “When am I ever gonna use this?” 

It’s not only the relatability and creativity of the tasks that help to engage your young audience. Studies have shown that the inclusion of technology (and specifically calculators) in the classroom can have a net positive effect on learning outcomes when done intentionally. After the student fully embraces a specific concept, repetition has no meaningful impact on their understanding of the subject. Calculators can, therefore, be extremely useful tools in reducing unnecessary workload and creating novel experiences focused on new topics.

We designed our scenarios around relatable, and often funny, stories. They strategically make use of calculators to maximize the focus on learning new concepts. These scenarios promote analytical thinking and concept-based knowledge in a world where repetitive tasks are best left to computers.