## Introduction

Student in the fashion merchandising industry learn how to manufacture, purchase, advertise and sell fashion materials. In the process of advertising, selling, and buying the student requires knowledge on both fashion merchandising and mathematics. Mathematics is usually a basic subject in most disciplines. A quality mathematics program is essential for all fashion merchandising students. Students require mathematics to convert measurements, converting currency, and budgeting process (Loyd, 1991). All these processes prepare fashion merchandising students in preparing for a career in fashion retailing. When well taught, mathematics makes the mind analytic. It provides a foundation for accurate thinking, precise management of resources and intelligent application of its concepts in other fields (Doris and Fay, 2006). Therefore, lectures are faced with an uphill task to determining how to teach mathematics properly in various courses. The question on whether to use or abstain from using calculators has been raised in various subjects especially in mathematics as a discipline. However, the issue on use of calculators in solving problems by the fashion merchandising students has not been raised. Therefore, a properly conducted research on how the use of calculators affects performance in the fashion merchandising industry is necessary. This will ensure that lecturers can teach mathematics properly thus enhancing the abilities of their students.

In the study of fashion merchandising, mathematics is very important. However, most students ignore mathematics while others just view mathematics as a complicated subject. This notion has led to some students being unable to solve the simple mathematical problems without the aid of technology. Most students in the fashion merchandising industry are dependent on calculators to solve math problems. Moreover, with the advances in technology, most institutions have adopted the use of calculators and other technological means to solve mathematical problems. Students currently use scientific calculators, converter software and other mathematical software that has simplified the process involved to complete a mathematical problem. This has led to students being lazy and adopting the use of calculators rather than pen and paper to solve math problems. This paper discusses the use of calculators in solving mathematical problems and how effective students can be at solving problems without the calculators. The results obtained from this study will provide information on how adoption of calculators has impacted on the students’ ability to use pen and paper in math. Moreover, it outlines the merits and the demerits associated with the use of calculators in fashion merchandising industry. The research will also assist lecturers, in the fashion merchandising program, to determine whether the use of calculators is will benefit the student or it will reduce their productivity.

**Research Questions**

The research questions for his study will be divided into two parts to enhance the accuracy of the research and results obtained. Therefore, the research has experimental questions and the non experimental questions

**Experimental Question**

To what extent are undergraduate students enrolled in a fashion merchandising program of study proficient at solving retail-related math problems without the aid of a calculator?

Research sub-questions

- How proficient are these students at solving retail-related math problems without the aid of a calculator?
- How proficient are these students at solving retail-related math problems with the aid of a calculator?

**Non-experimental Question**

To what degree are college admission scores in math for undergraduate students enrolled in a fashion merchandising program of study useful as predictors of grade point average compared to the general student population at-large?

To what extent does a student’s self-reported degree of math proficiency correlate with actual expectations of math proficiency for their reported career field choice?

**Justification for inclusion of particular studies**

Support from other sources will add validity to the research process. Moreover, it builds confidence among scholars and other future users of the research. Inclusion of comprehensive studies on how use of calculators affect the students will also assist in general research process by providing the researcher with information of areas that have been well covered and those that have a gap in knowledge. Therefore, inclusion of particular studies can be used as a means of determining where a researcher will focus his or her efforts in research. Areas that are well covered should be avoided since they yield information of less importance. Research is not about writing on existing knowledge. It is about adding knowledge to the already existing collection. Therefore, without literature review, a researcher may not achieve his or her goals. A good researcher uses information from other sources to enhance his or her research.

**Review of Methods Used To Address Related Research Question**

**Research Approaches and Designs**

The use of calculators in solving mathematical problems has been discussed and researched in many disciplines. Students’ use of calculators to solve mathematical problems has been researched using various design and methods. The design of research is one of the major components of the research that enhances the viability and the validity of the research process. Robert (2007) in his research paper, ‘the impacts of using calculators on student’s performance’ used within subjects design to assist in answering his research questions. In his study, Robert (2007) divided the study sample into two groups: the control group and the experimental group. Both the control group and the experimental were exposed to the treatment (Robert, 2007). The treatment involved having one group use calculators while solving mathematics problems. The control group was not supposed use calculator while solving problems. However, since the design used was within subject, the control group was also exposed to treatment. The reason behind the experimental group undergoing treatment was to ensure that the research yielded more data for analysis. Performance of each group will be recorded to ensure that they can be compared. Comparisons were done on the time taken to complete the mathematical problems. Further comparisons were done on the marks obtained between the students who used to calculators to solve mathematic problems and those who did not. Proficiency will be measured on the marks obtained and the time taken. Students with the highest marks were considered more proficient than students who with lower marks. Mark et al. (2009) also used this research design in his paper, an investigation of calculator use on employment tests of mathematical ability: effects on reliability, validity, test scores, and speed of completion. Therefore, this research design can be used as a process to assist in answering the aforementioned questions. In marks design all the students were required to complete two tasks with and without a calculator. This design is the exact opposite of between subjects where the control group is not exposed to all the tests. To test he non experimental questions, the results obtained will be tested against a students’ application to the career field. Moreover, the students’ college admission grade will be compared to their performances to determine how it affects their results.

Aimee (2003) in her paper ‘A Meta Analysis of the Effects of Calculators on Students’ Achievement and Attitude Levels in Precollege Mathematical Classes’ used the methods outline by Lipsey and Wilson (2001). The design of the study entailed sorting data into three categories: acquisition, retention and transfer of mathematical skills. Skills acquisition was measured immediately after treatment, skills retention was measured after a period of time and skill transfer was measured by evaluating how the students applied math in other disciplines (Aimee, 2003). The skills were further sorted into two categories. In category one the author identified the skills as: computational, operational, and conceptual. Category two represented a sub category of the problem solving. Category two was subjective and depended on expert opinion as to whether the skill was appropriate to a particular situation. This method can also be used to test the non experimental questions.

**Populations**

In order to carry out proper research, the researcher should identify a sample from the population under study (Hanson, et al 2001). The sample under study has is drawn from a relevant group for study purposes. The population of study in this case includes all fashion merchandising students. However, using a population is usually expensive and scientists have reverted to using samples. The sample is usually determined on availability of resources such as time and money. Mark et al. (2009) used a sample of 167 students. All the students who participated in the research were given extra credit in order to encourage participation. 54%of the participants were female while the rest were male (Mark et al., 2009). In the case of this study a sample of approximately 100 students may be chosen randomly within the campus.

**Measures**

Wesman & Doppelt (1969) identified the measure of mathematical reasoning as Personnel Test for Industry. The Personnel Test for Industry assessed individual problem solving skill and reasoning using 30 mathematical questions. The skills involved in solving these questions included: addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication (Wesman & Doppelt, 1969). The measurement of volume, length, and area are also tested in the PTI. Moreover, the PTI tested the student’s ability to manipulate decimals, fractions. The PTI also tested the student’s ability to interpreting charts. The questions in the PTI are presented in the order of ease of solving. The easier problems are outlined first (Wesman & Doppelt, 1969). The difficulty level increased as the student completed each question. Student or participants are given a total of 20 minutes to complete the questions. The total score is computed using the number of correctly answered questions for each participant. An alternate form with reliability coefficients is used to test the performance of the students (Wesman & Doppelt, 1969).

**Procedure**

According to Mark et al. (2009) the participants were exposed to a classroom setting. Prior to this, the participants were assigned specific tests. The participants were informed to treat the tests as any other tests they might get under similar circumstances (Mark, et al., 2009). Each of the participants was given a calculator to use when performing simple arithmetical tests (Mark et al., 2009). The calculators were equipped with percentage key, square-root key and memory key. Before the tests, the participants were allowed to test run their calculators and familiarize with them. All the participants were then allowed to complete their questions with the aid of a calculator and without.

**Limitations**

A major drawback to this study may be lack of adequate resources both time and money to conduct the research adequately. Another limitation to this study is that it may not provide for a test of how use of calculators may affect alterations in disciplines. This means that once the research has been performed in the fashion merchandising industry it becomes difficult to measure how the results can be used in case a student changes his or her discipline of study.

**Summary of Major Results Related To Question**

**Pattern(S) Detected By Method Employed**

An analysis of the results in use of calculators found that students who use calculators achieve higher than students who did not use calculators (Smith, 1996). There was also a significant difference in students’ attitudes with most of the students preferring to use calculators. In the younger students there were positive differences in their overall achievement between students who used calculators and those who did not. There was no significant difference in performance between the older students who used calculators and those who did not (Lipsey and Wilson, 1986). However, the time taken to solving mathematical problems between students who used calculators and those who did not use calculators had a significant difference (Hambree, and Dessart, 1986). Hembree and Dessart also found out that the use of calculators did not impair the ability of students to use pen and paper in calculation (Dunham and Dick, 1994). The use of calculators also showed a positive influence in the students’ achievements. Students who used graphical calculators had the ability to relate to their graphs and other graphical representation. Other areas where the students improved in were in the function concept and spatial visualization. Moreover, students are more flexible in their methods of analysis when they employ the use of calculators. The students focus more on trying to understand the problem rather than focusing on the computation problem.

**Gaps, Limitations in Studies**

Despite the amount of research done regarding the use of calculators and how they affect student’s performance in the fashion industry, there are still gaps in the knowledge gaps in the research of how the use of calculators affects other disciplines. A good example is in the discipline of fashion and merchandising. Addressing the topic on the extent to which undergraduate students enrolled in a fashion merchandising program of study are able to solve retail-related math problems without the aid of a calculator is one of the gaps that exist in research on this field. Moreover, the gaps also exist because quantification of some variables is not exact. Variables such as measure of mathematical reasoning advanced by Wesman & Doppelt (1969) is not enough to prove that students are brilliant or not. Therefore, researchers must come up with methods to measure the student’s mathematical reasoning.

**Contribution of Present Study**

Present research serves to fill the gaps in knowledge that existed from previous research programs. These researches are usually conducted to ensure that the weaknesses that existed in the previous research are eliminated (MAA Committee, 2006).

## Hypothesis

The null hypothesis in this research is that the performance of all students in fashion merchandising program is not affected by the use of calculators. The alternative hypothesis states that: the performance of students in the fashion merchandising program is affected by the use of calculators.

## References

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*Journal for Research in Mathematics Education,*34(5), 433-463 - Doris, H. K. and Fay, G. (2006).
*Mchandising Math: A Managerial Approach*. Virginia: Prentice Hall. - Dunham, P. H. & T. Dick (1994). Research on Graphing Calculators
*. Mathematics Teacher*, 87(6), 440-445. - Hambree, R. and Dessart, D.J. (1986). Effects of Hand Held Calculators in Precollege Mathematics Education: A Meta Analysis.
*Journal for Research in Mathematics Education,*17, 83-99. - Hanson, K., Brown, B., Levine, R., & Garcia, T. (2001). Should Standard Calculators Be Provided In Testing Situations? An Investigation of Performance and Preference Differences.
*Applied Measurement in Education,*14, 59-72. - Lipsey, M. & Wilson, D. (2001).
*Practical Meta- Analysis*. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. - Loyd, B. H. (1991). Mathematics test performance: The Effects of Item Type and Calculator Use.
*Applied Measurement in Education*, 4, 11-22. - MAA Committee. (2006). Mathematics Research by Undergraduates: Costs and Benefits to Faculty and the Institution.
*The mathematical association of America,*2 (1), 1- 4. - Mark, K., Bing, N., Susan M., and Davison, K. (2009). An Investigation of Calculator Use on Employment Tests of Mathematical Ability: Effects on Reliability, Validity, Test Scores, and Speed of Completion.
*Educational and Psychological Measurement*, 69(2), 322-350 - Robert, K. (2007). The Impacts of Using Calculators on Student’s Performance.
*American Journal of Arithmetics,*47 (2), 23-30 - Smith, B. A. (1996). A Meta-Analysis of Outcomes from the Use of Calculators in Mathematics Education.
*Dissertation Abstracts International*, 57, 787 - Wesman, A. G., & Doppelt, J. E. (1969).
*PTI Manual*. New York: Psychological Corporation.