Acta Didactica Napocensia

Volume 10 Number 1, pages 17-34

Published: 30 May 2017




Issues in combining the use of various tools in solving mathematical problems
why is copy-paste often useless

Matija Lokar, Paul Libbrecht


Abstract: Mathematical formulae are information objects that can be entered in a computer, visualized, and evaluated. Thus, by the majority of (mostly occasional) users it is also expected that they are transferable through the simple copy-paste procedure. This transfer is particularly interesting when users are involved in tasks that span different mathematical activities or domains. For example, when performing computations and writing a report about them, or when performing algebraic computations from geometric constructions. Essentially, using copy-paste also allows users to use a particular mathematical software for the tasks that it does best.

To uncover the possible difficulties within this process, we approached students who are beginning to learn the use of mathematical tools. Through analysing their home-work where they report on the usage of various tools we observed their use of the copy-paste transfer procedure, both from their reports and from the dialogue they had with the teachers. Their attempts show a multitude of issues which we try to explain. It appears that the copy-paste procedure is often useless, especially for inexperienced users.

Key words: copy-paste, transfer, representation, input


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