Computer algebra systems and secondary education

Rickhuss, Michael (1994). Computer algebra systems and secondary education. MPhil thesis The Open University.



Computer Algebra systems such as MACSYMA, REDUCE, SMP, MAPLE, DERIVE, Mathematica and muMath can be used as a powerful mathematics assistant in the secondary school mathematics classroom. Yet, at the present time, school teachers have declined to experiment with computer algebra systems.

This thesis is divided into three parts. The first part reviews the current literature on the use of computer algebra in education. The second part of this work describes why muMath was selected for the research contained within and how it was adapted and extended with clear pedagogical aims. Part three describes an experimental use of the resulting system, in the classroom, and analysis the results from the experiment.

This thesis contains some new evidence concerning the use of computer algebra systems in the classroom. Additionally a teaching strategy is discussed in section two of the thesis and the results of an experimental system outlined in part three tends to suggest that computer algebra systems will be as familiar to pupils of the future as the calculator is to pupils of today.

Hence, this thesis identifies current research in the use of computer algebra systems in the secondary school. It shows that research is at best poor and consequently proposes the design and implementation of a usable classroom system based on a primary computer algebra system. The resulting implementation, and use of, one such system is then evaluated. The thesis concludes with a personal opinion about the future of computer algebra systems and their uses in education.

Much of this work was completed between 1988 and 1990, and some details may now be somewhat out of date.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions