Detailed Description

The purpose of this module is to familiarize mathematics teachers at the high school and lower division college level with the content and teaching strategies for a promising new approach to teaching advanced algebra.
This approach stresses modeling and solving real world problems and develops skills and concepts of algebra as needed for this modeling process. In this course, the students work in a collaborative learning environment and make extensive use of a graphing calculator with data analysis and sequence capabilities such as those found on the TI-82, TI-83, TI-83+ and TI-83+ Silver Edition
After completing this module, a teacher will know the details of this approach and will be prepared to use or adapt the course or some topics of the course to his or her own instructional setting.


This course, which has been used at the University of Illinois quite successfully for six years, was based on preliminary editions of the text, 'Functioning in the Real World', by Sheldon Gordon and Ben Fusaro which was published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company in November, 1996 and in a second edition in 2004. [See the Required Materials button at the bottom of the Module 5 home page for a detailed description of the text and ordering information.] This text presents algebra, trigonometry and other topics from a non-traditional perspective that emphasizes the use of the basic algebraic and trigonometric functions to model interesting and current real-world problems. Data analysis is used to develop and test these models and to draw inferences from them. Manipulative skills are taught "as needed" for the model development and analysis and not as "stand alone" topics as is typical in traditional algebra texts and courses.

The Illinois version of the course is taught using the following teaching strategies and tools:
1) The Small-Group Instruction (or Collaborative Learning) Method
2) Mastery Testing of Algebraic Skills
3) Graphing calculators with data analysis and sequence capabilities (for example, any member of the TI-83 family of graphing calculators).


The use of the graphing calculator is an essential requirement of the text. We believe that the use of the Collaborative Learning Method has been absolutely crucial to the success of our course at Illinois. Although we believe that the use of Mastery Testing has also been helpful, we have not discussed that aspect of this course in this module because it is rather independent of the other two strategies. Thus, this module will focus on features 1) and 3) of the Illinois course. This module will prepare you to implement and adapt this course or aspects of this course for your school if you choose to do so.

Although it is certainly possible to use other graphing calculators for this course, the TI-83 family of graphing calculator have features that are especially well suited to the required tasks. Consequently, we have used it throughout this module. If you or your students are not familiar with the operation of the TI-83 family of calculators, there are interactive tutorials available at the tutorial button under the Math Teacher Link logo at the top of this and other MTL Module pages.