The Complex Process of Converting Tools into Mathematical Instruments: The Case of Calculators
Transforming any tool into a mathematical instrument for students involves a complex ‘instrumentation’ process and does not necessarily lead to better mathematical understanding. Analysis of the constraints and potential of the artefact are necessary in order to point out the mathematical knowledge involved in using a calculator. Results of this analysis have an influence on the design of problem situations. Observations of students using graphic and symbolic calculators were analysed and categorised into profiles, illustrating that transforming the calculator into an efficient mathematical instrument varies from student to student, a factor which has to be included in the teaching process.