The tutorial provides the student with instructions on how to use a calculator to make time value of money calculations necessary for a course in finance or accounting. The tutorial is linked from the home page for Dr. Mayes? courses in finance at Clemson University (http://clem.mscd.edu/~mayest). The ?Calculator Tutorials Index? page provides the written description of how to calculate time value of money concepts such as lump sums, annuities, uneven cash flows, net present values (NPV), and internal rate of returns (IRR) for the following Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Texas Instruments (TI) calculators: HP10B (no longer available), HP17BII ($90), HP12C ($69), TIBAII Plus ($30), TI83 ($90) and TI83 Plus ($100). A picture of the face of each calculator is displayed. Text for all six calculators is essentially the same, with adjustments made depending on the type of calculator being illustrated. Instructions for setting up each financial calculator are provided. In addition, the ?cash flow sign convention? incorporated into financial calculators is explained. The following review is based on testing the module using a TIBAII Plus calculator.
Type of Material:
The home page requires a Netscape 2.0+ browser or an Explorer 3.0+ browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To be able to effectively use a financial calculator in to solve time value of money problems (future value of a lump sum, present value of an annuity, uneven cash flows, net present value and internal rate of return).
Target Student Population:
Undergraduate students who are taking courses in financial accounting, investments, financial models,
or portfolio management.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
An understanding of the nomenclature (terms) associated with time value of money concepts as well as having one of the calculators for which a tutorial is intended.
The primary focus of this module is teaching students how to use a financial calculator to solve time value of money problems, rather than time value of money concepts. The module can serve as both a tutorial and reference piece for faculty who require students to use a financial calculator for solving time value of money problems. A sample problem is provided for each situation along with the solution so students will know whether or not they are using their calculators correctly. The explanation to how to change the default settings on the calculators was very good. This is one of the first things that students neglect to change on their calculators. Usually this information is hidden in the manual that accompanies the calculator. Additionally, the module could be used as a starting point for instructors who wish to develop a similar handout for another type of financial calculator.T
The explanations of the calculations need to be expanded for the site to be useful. For example, with the BAII Plus Tutorial, the first calculation indicates that a negative 100 should be keyed into the calculator. But, it is only later in the tutorial that it is explained that using the minus key will not work in that context. Instead, it is necessary to use the +/- key. The tutorial provides fairly accurate information through examples #1 and #2 with the exception noted above. The instructions for example #3 on uneven cash flows are incomplete and confusing and did not yield the answer provided. Similarly the instructions for example #4 on net present value did not yield the solution provided, however, the internal rate of return computation for this example did work. It is recommended that the tutorial be expanded so that the exact key input is shown rather than the more narrative approach that is taken in the tutorial.
While the purpose of this module is to provide instruction on how to use a financial calculator,
users should realize that the single problem provided for each time value of money concept is probably not sufficient to guarantee students learning. Practice solving additional problems would be required.
Were the content of the tutorials accurate, they would be of more value. Instructors are strongly encouraged to verify that instructions for the other calculators are accurate and understandable before using with classes.
The HP10B calculator appears to no longer be available having been replaced with the HP10BII. Furthermore, the location of the keys is different on the HP10BII calculator
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
It is a very good idea to set up a tutorial based on specific calculators and time value concepts. There is a need for such a tutorial as undergraduates have great difficulty in successfully using their calculators to make these computations. Although these calculators come with their own manual, many students are still lost. For this reason, there needs to be a ?how to? resource on a variety of calculators. So, the basic idea is a very good one. Module has potential for instructors who require a financial calculator for their course to give students more options as to the type of and cost of a calculator they might wish to purchase. To learn how to use a particular calculator, students need only print the instructions for the calculator they own, all examples provided are the same.
The tutorial begins with a lump sum analysis. Thus, it begins with the easy part of the learning progression, as it should. Unfortunately, the difficulty in making the lump sum calculations (see above comment) does not contribute to a learning progression from easy to difficult. A more step-by-step approach should be adopted in the tutorial. Each button to be keyed needs to be clearly identified with each step in the process. The typical manual accompanying the calculators takes a more step-by-step approach,
but these instructions are not adequate by themselves. The tutorials are ?to-the-point? and on-target with the topic (unlike the manuals) but the manual?s step-by-step methodology should have been a consideration in developing this tutorial.
Instructors should plan to use the module in conjunction with additional assignments. The single example provided for each time value of money concept is not sufficient drill and practice to ensure students will be able to demonstrate their ability to solve problems of this nature. The goal should be for students to be able to solve time value of money problems using a financial calculator without having to refer back to the tutorial.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The tutorial is easy to use as it is a reading assignment. A graphic of each calculator being illustrated is included. Currently, numerous interactive time-value calculators are available on the Web that allow users to make these computations, however, the calculations are not directly tied to using a financial calculator. For this reason, the tutorial is a good idea. The module could serve as a guide, if modified, for others to follow when developing similar materials.
The module largely appears to be a classroom handout that has been put on the Web. It appears to be have written in a word processor as the font is times roman and does not match the font used on the professor?s home page?which has more of a ?Web? look and feel. The site would be better if it were interactive in a way that showed which buttons were being pushed on the calculators (lit up, for example) along with numerically changing the numbers in the calculator window to correspond with the pushing of the button. Another alternative might be to use a two-column table to display the keystrokes required for a particular segment of each computation followed by results that would be displayed on the calculator.
Using the TI-BAII Plus calculator several errors were noted. Example #2 has omitted one keystroke,
while examples 3 and 4 leave much to be desired. In the last sentence of example #2,the CPT key should be pressed followed by the FV key for the computation to work properly. Pressing the CPT key has been omitted from the instructions. Instructions provided for examples #3 and #4 appear to be incomplete and inaccurate and as a result make use of the module without modification troublesome. For example, the down arrow key should be pressed twice instead of once after entering data for the first cash flow and corresponding number of years before entering the next value for the second cash flow.
Having key terms highlighted with a pop-up definition or link to a glossary would be helpful.
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