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Journal: Problems of Education in the 21st Century (Vol.77, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ;

Page : 379-395

Keywords : computer algebra system; education statistics; engineering education; mathematical education; Mathcad; Mathematica; Matlab; Microsoft Excel;

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This research presents the analysis of image of the popular program packages: CAS (Computer Algebra Systems) Matlab, Mathcad, Mathematica, and the spreadsheet ‘Microsoft Excel' among students of engineering specializations studying in Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU). The research has explored perception of program packages by all students (N=164), and by male students (N=110) and female students (N=54) separately. Image of the program packages, convenience of their interfaces, usage scenarios, and applicability for solution of tasks of certain types have been explored via questioning the students. Moreover, the students assessed likelihood of using the programs in the future. It was established that all the program packages under consideration can be successfully used in the process of education, but some of them (Matlab and Mathematica) require additional lessons to learn their interface and peculiarities. Gender differences in perception of the program packages do not determine the education outcomes. The differences of perception of the programs are mainly caused by their popularity and the students' skills of using certain programs. The following gender differences have been detected: in the female students' sample, the programs Mathcad and Excel are leading, Matlab is performed a little worse; Matlab is associated with the statement “difficult / inconvenient interface”. In the male students' sample, the three programs Matlab, Mathcad, and Microsoft Excel got nearly equal grades. Female students estimate future usage of Microsoft Excel higher than male students do. The CAS Mathematica takes the lowest places for both samples; as a possible cause of such result, it has been found that Mathematica is not widespread as compared to the other programs under consideration.

Last modified: 2019-06-25 15:42:27