Matching Items (9)

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Exploring Student Thinking in Novel Linear Relationship Problems

Description

This is a report of a study that investigated the thinking of a high-achieving precalculus student when responding to tasks that required him to define linear formulas to relate covarying

This is a report of a study that investigated the thinking of a high-achieving precalculus student when responding to tasks that required him to define linear formulas to relate covarying quantities. Two interviews were conducted for analysis. A team of us in the mathematics education department at Arizona State University initially identified mental actions that we conjectured were needed for constructing meaningful linear formulas. This guided the development of tasks for the sequence of clinical interviews with one high-performing precalculus student. Analysis of the interview data revealed that in instances when the subject engaged in meaning making that led to him imagining and identifying the relevant quantities and how they change together, he was able to give accurate definitions of variables and was usually able to define a formula to relate the two quantities of interest. However, we found that the student sometimes had difficulty imagining how the two quantities of interest were changing together. At other times he exhibited a weak understanding of the operation of subtraction and the idea of constant rate of change. He did not appear to conceptualize subtraction as a quantitative comparison. His inability to conceptualize a constant rate of change as a proportional relationship between the changes in two quantities also presented an obstacle in his developing a meaningful formula that relied on this understanding. The results further stress the need to develop a student's ability to engage in mental operations that involve covarying quantities and a more robust understanding of constant rate of change since these abilities and understanding are critical for student success in future courses in mathematics.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Understandings of Function Notation and its Impacts on Student Approaches to Problem Solving

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The focus of this study was to examine how a student's understanding of function notation impacted their approaches to problem solving. Before this question could be answered, students' understandings about

The focus of this study was to examine how a student's understanding of function notation impacted their approaches to problem solving. Before this question could be answered, students' understandings about function notation had to be determined. The goal of the first part of the data was to determine the norm of understanding for function notation for students after taking a college level pre-calculus class. From the data collected, several ideas about student understanding of notation emerged. The goal of the second data set was to determine if student understanding of notation impacted their reasoning while problem solving, and if so, how it impacted their reasoning. Collected data suggests that much of what students "understand" about function notation comes from memorized procedures and that the notation may have little or no meaning for students in context. Evidence from this study indicates that this lack of understanding of function notation does negatively impact student's ability to solve context based problems. In order to build a strong foundation of function, a well-developed understanding of function notation is necessary. Because function notation is a widely accepted way of communicating information about function relationships, understanding its uses and meanings in context is imperative for developing a strong foundation that will allow individuals to approach functions in a meaningful and productive manner.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-05

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Students’ Meanings for Stochastic Process While Developing a Conception of Distribution

Description

The concept of distribution is one of the core ideas of probability theory and inferential statistics, if not the core idea. Many introductory statistics textbooks pay lip service to

The concept of distribution is one of the core ideas of probability theory and inferential statistics, if not the core idea. Many introductory statistics textbooks pay lip service to stochastic/random processes but how do students think about these processes? This study sought to explore what understandings of stochastic process students develop as they work through materials intended to support them in constructing the long-run behavior meaning for distribution.

I collected data in three phases. First, I conducted a set of task-based clinical interviews that allowed me to build initial models for the students’ meanings for randomness and probability. Second, I worked with Bonnie in an exploratory teaching setting through three sets of activities to see what meanings she would develop for randomness and stochastic process. The final phase consisted of me working with Danielle as she worked through the same activities as Bonnie but this time in teaching experiment setting where I used a series of interventions to test out how Danielle was thinking about stochastic processes.

My analysis shows that students can be aware that the word “random” lives in two worlds, thereby having conflicting meanings. Bonnie’s meaning for randomness evolved over the course of the study from an unproductive meaning centered on the emotions of the characters in the context to a meaning that randomness is the lack of a pattern. Bonnie’s lack of pattern meaning for randomness subsequently underpinned her image of stochastic/processes, leading her to engage in pattern-hunting behavior every time she needed to classify a process as stochastic or not. Danielle’s image of a stochastic process was grounded in whether she saw the repetition as being reproducible (process can be repeated, and outcomes are identical to prior time through the process) or replicable (process can be repeated but the outcomes aren’t in the same order as before). Danielle employed a strategy of carrying out several trials of the process, resetting the applet, and then carrying out the process again, making replicability central to her thinking.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Conceptualizing and Reasoning with Frames of Reference in Three Studies

Description

This dissertation reports three studies about what it means for teachers and students to reason with frames of reference: to conceptualize a reference frame, to coordinate multiple frames of reference,

This dissertation reports three studies about what it means for teachers and students to reason with frames of reference: to conceptualize a reference frame, to coordinate multiple frames of reference, and to combine multiple frames of reference. Each paper expands on the previous one to illustrate and utilize the construct of frame of reference. The first paper is a theory paper that introduces the mental actions involved in reasoning with frames of reference. The concept of frames of reference, though commonly used in mathematics and physics, is not described cognitively in any literature. The paper offers a theoretical model of mental actions involved in conceptualizing a frame of reference. Additionally, it posits mental actions that are necessary for a student to reason with multiple frames of reference. It also extends the theory of quantitative reasoning with the construct of a ‘framed quantity’. The second paper investigates how two introductory calculus students who participated in teaching experiments reasoned about changes (variations). The data was analyzed to see to what extent each student conceptualized the variations within a conceptualized frame of reference as described in the first paper. The study found that the extent to which each student conceptualized, coordinated, and combined reference frames significantly affected his ability to reason productively about variations and to make sense of his own answers. The paper ends by analyzing 123 calculus students’ written responses to one of the tasks to build hypotheses about how calculus students reason about variations within frames of reference. The third paper reports how U.S. and Korean secondary mathematics teachers reason with frame of reference on open-response items. An assessment with five frame of reference tasks was given to 539 teachers in the US and Korea, and the responses were coded with rubrics intended to categorize responses by the extent to which they demonstrated conceptualized and coordinated frames of reference. The results show that the theory in the first study is useful in analyzing teachers’ reasoning with frames of reference, and that the items and rubrics function as useful tools in investigating teachers’ meanings for quantities within a frame of reference.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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An investigation of the teaching and learning of function inverse

Description

Based on poor student performance in past studies, the incoherence present in the teaching of inverse functions, and teachers' own accounts of their struggles to teach this topic, it is

Based on poor student performance in past studies, the incoherence present in the teaching of inverse functions, and teachers' own accounts of their struggles to teach this topic, it is apparent that the idea of function inverse deserves a closer look and an improved pedagogical approach. This improvement must enhance students' opportunity to construct a meaning for a function's inverse and, out of that meaning, produce ways to define a function's inverse without memorizing some procedure. This paper presents a proposed instructional sequence that promotes reflective abstraction in order to help students develop a process conception of function and further understand the meaning of a function inverse. The instructional sequence was used in a teaching experiment with three subjects and the results are presented here. The evidence presented in this paper supports the claim that the proposed instructional sequence has the potential to help students construct meanings needed for understanding function inverse. The results of this study revealed shifts in the understandings of all three subjects. I conjecture that these shifts were achieved by posing questions that promoted reflective abstraction. The questions and subsequent interactions appeared to result in all three students moving toward a process conception of function.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Sparky the Saguaro: teaching experiments examining students' development of the idea of logarithm

Description

There have been a number of studies that have examined students’ difficulties in understanding the idea of logarithm and the effectiveness of non-traditional interventions. However, there have been few studies

There have been a number of studies that have examined students’ difficulties in understanding the idea of logarithm and the effectiveness of non-traditional interventions. However, there have been few studies that have examined the understandings students develop and need to develop when completing conceptually oriented logarithmic lessons. In this document, I present the three papers of my dissertation study. The first paper examines two students’ development of concepts foundational to the idea of logarithm. This paper discusses two essential understandings that were revealed to be problematic and essential for students’ development of productive meanings for exponents, logarithms and logarithmic properties. The findings of this study informed my later work to support students in understanding logarithms, their properties and logarithmic functions. The second paper examines two students’ development of the idea of logarithm. This paper describes the reasoning abilities two students exhibited as they engaged with tasks designed to foster their construction of more productive meanings for the idea of logarithm. The findings of this study provide novel insights for supporting students in understanding the idea of logarithm meaningfully. Finally, the third paper begins with an examination of the historical development of the idea of logarithm. I then leveraged the insights of this literature review and the first two papers to perform a conceptual analysis of what is involved in learning and understanding the idea of logarithm. The literature review and conceptual analysis contributes novel and useful information for curriculum developers, instructors, and other researchers studying student learning of this idea.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Investigating the advancement of middle school mathematics teachers' meanings for partitive division by fractional values of quantities

Description

Researchers have described two fundamental conceptualizations for division, known as partitive and quotitive division. Partitive division is the conceptualization of a÷b as the amount of something per copy such that

Researchers have described two fundamental conceptualizations for division, known as partitive and quotitive division. Partitive division is the conceptualization of a÷b as the amount of something per copy such that b copies of this amount yield the amount a. Quotitive division is the conceptualization of a÷b as the number of copies of the amount b that yield the amount a. Researchers have identified many cognitive obstacles that have inhibited the development of robust meanings for division involving non-whole values, while other researchers have commented on the challenges related to such development. Regarding division with fractions, much research has been devoted to quotitive conceptualizations of division, or on symbolic manipulation of variables. Research and curricular activities have largely avoided the study and development of partitive conceptualizations involving fractions, as well as their connection to the invert-and-multiply algorithm. In this dissertation study, I investigated six middle school mathematics teachers’ meanings related to partitive conceptualizations of division over the positive rational numbers. I also investigated the impact of an intervention that I designed with the intent of advancing one of these teachers’ meanings. My findings suggested that the primary cognitive obstacles were difficulties with maintaining multiple levels of units, weak quantitative meanings for fractional multipliers, and an unawareness of (and confusion due to) the two quantitative conceptualizations of division. As a product of this study, I developed a framework for characterizing robust meanings for division, indicated directions for future research, and shared implications for curriculum and instruction.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Perturbing practices: a case study of the effects of virtual manipulatives as novel didactic objects on rational function instruction

Description

The advancement of technology has substantively changed the practices of numerous professions, including teaching. When an instructor first adopts a new technology, established classroom practices are perturbed. These perturbations can

The advancement of technology has substantively changed the practices of numerous professions, including teaching. When an instructor first adopts a new technology, established classroom practices are perturbed. These perturbations can have positive and negative, large or small, and long- or short-term effects on instructors’ abilities to teach mathematical concepts with the new technology. Therefore, in order to better understand teaching with technology, we need to take a closer look at the adoption of new technology in a mathematics classroom. Using interviews and classroom observations, I explored perturbations in mathematical classroom practices as an instructor implemented virtual manipulatives as novel didactic objects in rational function instruction. In particular, the instructor used didactic objects that were designed to lay the foundation for developing a conceptual understanding of rational functions through the coordination of relative size of the value of the numerator in terms of the value of the denominator. The results are organized according to a taxonomy that captures leader actions, communication, expectations of technology, roles, timing, student engagement, and mathematical conceptions.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Students' ways of thinking about two-variable functions and rate of change in space

Description

This dissertation describes an investigation of four students' ways of thinking about functions of two variables and rate of change of those two-variable functions. Most secondary, introductory algebra, pre-calculus, and

This dissertation describes an investigation of four students' ways of thinking about functions of two variables and rate of change of those two-variable functions. Most secondary, introductory algebra, pre-calculus, and first and second semester calculus courses do not require students to think about functions of more than one variable. Yet vector calculus, calculus on manifolds, linear algebra, and differential equations all rest upon the idea of functions of two (or more) variables. This dissertation contributes to understanding productive ways of thinking that can support students in thinking about functions of two or more variables as they describe complex systems with multiple variables interacting. This dissertation focuses on modeling the way of thinking of four students who participated in a specific instructional sequence designed to explore the limits of their ways of thinking and in turn, develop a robust model that could explain, describe, and predict students' actions relative to specific tasks. The data was collected using a teaching experiment methodology, and the tasks within the teaching experiment leveraged quantitative reasoning and covariation as foundations of students developing a coherent understanding of two-variable functions and their rates of change. The findings of this study indicated that I could characterize students' ways of thinking about two-variable functions by focusing on their use of novice and/or expert shape thinking, and the students' ways of thinking about rate of change by focusing on their quantitative reasoning. The findings suggested that quantitative and covariational reasoning were foundational to a student's ability to generalize their understanding of a single-variable function to two or more variables, and their conception of rate of change to rate of change at a point in space. These results created a need to better understand how experts in the field, such as mathematicians and mathematics educators, thinking about multivariable functions and their rates of change.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012