The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Applied Statistics: M.S.


Department of Mathematics and Statistics


College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Susan Haller

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Computer, Spreadsheet, Algebra, Functions, Growth



The purpose of this research was to explore the effects of incorporating computer spreadsheets on the development of algebraic thinking as it pertains to growth patterns of functions. The study also examined students' ability to transfer skills learned on a computer spreadsheet to problems using pencil and paper, as well the effect of incorporating computer spreadsheets on student motivation, engagement, and communication. Specific questions addressed in the study include: How does investigating an algebra problem about growth patterns by entering numbers, creating formulas, and noticing patterns on a computer spreadsheet affect students' ability to learn the concepts of linear and exponential growth functions? In what ways does the use of a computer spreadsheet to introduce and explore function concepts transfer skills to students' performance on working through similar concepts using pencil and paper? How does using a computer spreadsheet affect students' motivation in learning concepts of function growth?


Students from two Algebra 2 courses participated in this study. The treatment group worked in the computer lab to creating Excel™ spreadsheets, while the control group worked in the classroom using paper, pencil, and calculator. The research study included collection of both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative procedure involved a comparison of worksheet and post-instruction assessment scores. The qualitative data consisted of a student engagement survey used to assess attitudes and actions during participation in class activities. Informal teacher researcher observations of classroom activities are also part of the analysis.


This study found no difference between the treatment group and the control groups with respect to their conceptual development of function growth patterns. Students who used computer spreadsheets were able to finish the assigned work more quickly than students using traditional paper and pencil methods. Students using a computer spreadsheet were able to transfer their knowledge of function behavior to paper and pencil when a spreadsheet was not available. Student engagement in both the treatment group and control group was similar.



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