National Numeracy Network > Teaching Resources > Teaching with SSAC > Why Teach with SSAC?

Why Teach with SSAC?

What do you want your students to be able to do on their own after your course? Does it include engaging quantitative information as they find it – in their further classes, in the workplace, in their personal lives? The path to quantitative literacy goes through number sense and problem solving.



Number sense and problem solving are promoted by teaching with SSAC modules.

  • SSAC modules cause students to engage elementary math problems themselves. Students need to "do math" to build their spreadsheets. The answers are known, because they are visible in the orange cells. The students need to keep trying with their cell equations until they get the right answers. Spreadsheets are interactive; they give instant feedback.
  • SSAC modules cause students to solve what-if problems. After students get their equations to give the answers in the orange cells, end-of-module questions commonly ask the students to change the "given" values (the numbers in the yellow cells), and turn those answers in for grading. Students experience modeling; they see the effect of the independent variables on the calculated results. They gain number sense.

Spreadsheeting is the technology of choice for teaching quantitative material

  • A computer with a spreadsheet is as ubiquitous as a hand-held calculator and nearly as portable. It is the most likely technology that one will find necessary in the next class, at the next job, or at home.
  • Spreadshets "enable data, formulae and graphical output to be available on the screen at once"; they "give students a large measure of control and ownership over their learning"; and they "can solve complex problems and handle large amounts of data without any need for programming." Reformatted from R. Beare (1993), "How spreadsheets can aid a variety of mathematical learning activities from primary to tertiary level," Technology in Mathematics Teaching: A Bridge Between Teaching and Learning, B. Jaworski, Birmingham, U.K., p. 117-124 from p. 22 of J. Baker and S. Sugden, 2003, "Spreadsheets in Education – The First 25 Years", 1(1), p. 18-43.

  • "I would suggest that when both are possible, students find it easier and quicker to use a spreadsheet than write a computer program. Moreover, once written, a program can often mask the mathematics that it is intended to represent, while on a spreadsheet the procedure is constantly exposed." A. Steward (1994), "Spreadsheets in Mathematical Education," International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 25(2), p. 239 (Baker and Sugden, 2003, p.20)