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Re: if using Mathematica to solve an algebraic problem is like copying

Why is using Mathematica similar to copying someone else's homework?

Putting the question of the motivation and economics of student cheating
aside, the question is: how can Mathematica be used to promote learning by
students actually interested in learning?

How about the following as one possible method? Use an Axiom Set - Problems
approach. Give the students the axioms or rules of his subject (with
descriptive names) in an active form and then have them solve problems by
choosing and applying the axioms step by step. If they could do that, would
it satisfy you, even though the computer was doing the dog work?

Would you object if the students didn't actually memorize the axioms but
worked from a table or palette? Would they sort of memorize them just by
repeated use?

Or is it your position that students have only learned what they can recall
from memory and apply using pencil and paper?

More generally, is it your position that Mathematica can't ever be helpful
in learning, or that it hasn't been shown to be useful, or that we just
haven't learned ourselves how to make it useful.

David Park
djmpark at  


From: Richard Fateman [mailto:fateman at] 

from someone else, then consider this article, which
suggests that students (at MIT, at least) learn significantly
less, in some sense by copying their homework.

Of course this would be similarly true for other computer systems.

While the details of the experimental setup may not match, the
results are startling.

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