for the learning of mathematics

an international journal of mathematics education

Craig Pournara - Vol. 29 Num. 3 (2009)
 Spreadsheets as a transparent resource for learning the mathematics of annuities


The ability of mathematics teachers to decompress mathematics and to move between representations are two key features of mathematical knowledge that is usable for teaching. This article reports on four pre-service secondary mathematics teachers learning the mathematics of annuities. In working with spreadsheets students began to make sense of mathematical and financial aspects of annuities because of their ability to unpack the mathematical ideas compressed in annuity formulae, and to translate between algebraic, numeric and geometric representations. I argue that the transparency of the spreadsheet for the students played a key role in their ability to unpack and translate between representations.