Right now I have a Ti 83 that I have had since eighth grade. At this point (wrapping up my first semester of Calculus) I use it infrequently -- mostly to find decimal values and to double check my arithmetic before I submit work.
My university "recommends, but does not require, a calculator capable of advanced functions (such as a Ti 89) for use as a learning tool to aid students in familiarizing themselves with the material and concepts presented. However, no student will be allowed access to a calculator of any kind during any test or assignment which contributes to the student's final grade."
Thus far I have put off upgrading in part because of the expense, and in part because I was worried about becoming dependent on the calculator's capabilities. However, at this point I am starting to wonder if not having one is going to put me at a disadvantage as the material becomes harder. What is your opinion -- is a Ti 89 a valuable learning tool or an expensive crutch?
This is a very good question. I was in a similar boat, as I had a TI-83 for 9-11th grade and got my TI-89 my senior year of high school. The TI-89 definitely has some amazing features that can be useful, if applied the right way. If not, like you said it becomes a crutch. Whether that would happen or not would be up to you. Like others have said, I agree that you would not be at a disadvantage to other students if you didn't buy one. You would just need to find other ways of achieving the same things, which isn't too difficult.
1) I would buy one if it is affordable for you
2) If you don't want to or don't have the money now, it won't hurt you
3) It will only become a crutch if you allow it to
Thanks so much for all the advice!
My main interest in one is, as The Second Solution said, the ability to check over my work -- both major steps of complex problems and finished solutions. The cost is significant for me, but so is the time. I find myself spending almost as much time going back over my work line by line as I do working the problems in the first place, and it adds up to a lot of time each week spent on my one math course. With relatively low-intensity freshman courses, I have found the time, but I worry that may change as I get into higher-level work. If I could, for instance, enter something like this
and see quickly if I had the right answer, that would be great.
It is not so much that I worry about abusing it (putting questions through the calculator without first doing the work on paper) but rather becoming so attached to it psychologically that I feel lost without it. Since I am a distance student, about 95% of my final grade is one four-hour test at the end of the semester -- a bad time to be switching habits.
As I said, thanks to all for the advice. I felt kind of silly asking this question, and I appreciate the thoughtfull responses! Now, I suppose, it is just a matter of weighing my priorities.
I agree this comes down to your priorities. I don't know your financial situation, but I think that in the end the cost of the calculator shouldn't be the determining factor. You could work part time or live meekly for a while to earn the $100-something it costs. Remember your time spent learning is an investment and tools like this can pay out many times over in the future. That isn't to tell you to buy it no matter what, but just something to think about.
Finally, I think you should think about this. After Calculus III (multi-variable) and Differential Equations I (introductory class), computations are less and less a part of math classes. Higher level math classes deal with generalities and proofs and stop asking questions where the answer is a number. I think that it would be easily possible that you would stop using any calculator for the last year or so of undergraduate math study.
That's about every possible thing I can think of on this topic, so good luck
I happen to own an 89.
In my calculus II class the exams are given in two parts. Anything involving integration of any type is on the non-calculator portion of the test. So I spent all that money on it and don't even get to take advantage of any of it's features. I mean I would just like to be able to use it for things like factoring or polynomial long division, or any other areas where I am likely to make a careless mistake, but no I am not allowed a calculator at all. Do yourself a favor, save your money.