Math department implements specific calculator model rule

(GRAPHIC/ Matt Firpo)
(GRAPHIC/ Matt Firpo)
Katie Miller explores teacher and student perspectives on a new math department device policy.

Katie Miller

Staff Writer

Calculators seem like a simple device, but the math department takes sincere care in making sure all students have equal opportunity in their classes.

The TI30XII scientific calculator was a requirement as of fall 2016 for lower level math courses, mainly those that are general studies.

Students were forced to part from their basic function calculators or high-level graphing calculators and begin getting accustomed to the TI30XII.

This is a great change for Kenneth Roblee, a professor in the math department and general studies coordinator.

“I think it’s a good calculator; I use it a lot myself,” Roblee said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve taught any of those courses, but I use it whenever I’m making a test solution and trying to work things out.”

The math department wanted several Troy campuses in Montgomery, Dothan and even those out of Alabama to have the same calculator for consistency.

“We wanted them to have all the same access for the exams,” Roblee said. “It was to try to make things standardized for wherever those courses are taught.”

Consistency with exams is extremely important, so some don’t have advantages over others.

“You can do a lot more with graphing calculators than what we would be comfortable with,” Roblee said.

In high school, I grew very attached to my TI-84 graphing calculator. So did Scarlett Crouch, a sophomore chemistry major from Gulf Shores, Florida. In her trigonometry class, she was disappointed to learn she couldn’t use her graphing calculator.

“I had an expensive, $100-plus, TI-84 calculator,” Crouch said. “I bought it for high school.” Crouch thought she would be expected to use it for college but is now unable.

“Once I got here, they said, ‘No, you’re not going to use this piece of crap four-function calculator,’” Crouch said. “It’s really annoying that they didn’t really give us an option; they could have given us a warning.”

The math department is ensuring that all students have equal opportunity to do well on tests, according to Roblee.

“By school rules, you’re not supposed to use a (graphing calculator) on the test,” Crouch said. “I don’t think about cheating that much to try to figure out how to cheat with a calculator. I know the options are there, though.”

Trinity Singleton, a sophomore graphic design major from Fort Knox, Kentucky, is in pre-calculus with trig and has to use the TI30XII calculator. “I was only alerted by teachers, and only one of them clarified, only after I purchased the TI30XS,” Singleton said.

“I kind of like it,” Singleton said. “I like graphing calculators better, but we can’t use them anymore.”

Singleton said she thinks high-level calculators were banned because some students were using the high-tech computer screen calculators to get an advantage on tests.

“It was kind of inconvenient to get a new calculator,” Singleton said. “I wish they had it in an email, so they could have specified which calculator we could use.”

“I think the instructors that teach the classes are comfortable with it, and they know what it can do and what it can’t do, in terms of the classes they teach,” Roblee said. “It’s my go-to calculator. TI is a good brand.”

As inconvenient as it was to buy a new calculator, the TI30XII is an affordable calculator that serves well for test-taking.

Even though the graphing calculator is a convenient tool, in order to fully prepare students for general studies classes, the TI30XII calculator is the best option.