Matching Items (5)

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Examining the development of students' covariational reasoning in the context of graphing

Description

Researchers have documented the importance of seeing a graph as an emergent trace of how two quantities’ values vary simultaneously in order to reason about the graph in terms of

Researchers have documented the importance of seeing a graph as an emergent trace of how two quantities’ values vary simultaneously in order to reason about the graph in terms of quantitative relationships. If a student does not see a graph as a representation of how quantities change together then the student is limited to reasoning about perceptual features of the shape of the graph.

This dissertation reports results of an investigation into the ways of thinking that support and inhibit students from constructing and reasoning about graphs in terms of covarying quantities. I collected data by engaging three university precalculus students in asynchronous teaching experiments. I designed the instructional sequence to support students in making three constructions: first imagine representing quantities’ magnitudes along the axes, then simultaneously represent these magnitudes with a correspondence point in the plane, and finally anticipate tracking the correspondence point to track how the two quantities’ attributes change simultaneously.

Findings from this investigation provide insights into how students come to engage in covariational reasoning and re-present their imagery in their graphing actions. The data presented here suggests that it is nontrivial for students to coordinate their images of two varying quantities. This is significant because without a way to coordinate two quantities’ variation the student is limited to engaging in static shape thinking.

I describe three types of imagery: a correspondence point, Tinker Bell and her pixie dust, and an actor taking baby steps, that supported students in developing ways to coordinate quantities’ variation. I discuss the figurative aspects of the students’ coordination in order to account for the difficulties students had (1) constructing a multiplicative object that persisted under variation, (2) reconstructing their acts of covariation in other graphing tasks, and (3) generalizing these acts of covariation to reason about formulas in terms of covarying quantities.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Secondary teachers' and calculus students' meanings for fraction, measure and rate of change

Description

This dissertation reports three studies of students’ and teachers’ meanings for quotient, fraction, measure, rate, and rate of change functions. Each study investigated individual’s schemes (or meanings) for foundational mathematical

This dissertation reports three studies of students’ and teachers’ meanings for quotient, fraction, measure, rate, and rate of change functions. Each study investigated individual’s schemes (or meanings) for foundational mathematical ideas. Conceptual analysis of what constitutes strong meanings for fraction, measure, and rate of change is critical for each study. In particular, each study distinguishes additive and multiplicative meanings for fraction and rate of change.

The first paper reports an investigation of 251 high school mathematics teachers’ meanings for slope, measurement, and rate of change. Most teachers conveyed primarily additive and formulaic meanings for slope and rate of change on written items. Few teachers conveyed that a rate of change compares the relative sizes of changes in two quantities. Teachers’ weak measurement schemes were associated with limited meanings for rate of change. Overall, the data suggests that rate of change should be a topics of targeted professional development.

The second paper reports the quantitative part of a mixed method study of 153 calculus students at a large public university. The majority of calculus students not only have weak meanings for fraction, measure, and constant rates but that having weak meanings is predictive of lower scores on a test about rate of change functions. Regression is used to determine the variation in student success on questions about rate of change functions (derivatives) associated with variation in success on fraction, measure, rate, and covariation items.

The third paper investigates the implications of two students’ fraction schemes for their understanding of rate of change functions. Students’ weak measurement schemes obstructed their ability to construct a rate of change function given the graph of an original function. The two students did not coordinate three levels of units, and struggled to relate partitioning and iterating in a way that would help them reason about fractions, rate of change, and rate of change functions.

Taken as a whole the studies show that the majority of secondary teachers and calculus students studied have weak meanings for foundational ideas and that these weaknesses cause them problems in making sense of more applications of rate of change.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Exponential Growth and Online Learning Environments: Designing for and Studying the Development of Student Meanings in Online Courses

Description

This dissertation report follows a three-paper format, with each paper having a different but related focus. In Paper 1 I discuss conceptual analysis of mathematical ideas relative to its place

This dissertation report follows a three-paper format, with each paper having a different but related focus. In Paper 1 I discuss conceptual analysis of mathematical ideas relative to its place within cognitive learning theories and research studies. In particular, I highlight specific ways mathematics education research uses conceptual analysis and discuss the implications of these uses for interpreting and leveraging results to produce empirically tested learning trajectories. From my summary and analysis I develop two recommendations for the cognitive researchers developing empirically supported learning trajectories. (1) A researcher should frame his/her work, and analyze others’ work, within the researcher’s image of a broadly coherent trajectory for student learning and (2) that the field should work towards a common understanding for the meaning of a hypothetical learning trajectory.

In Paper 2 I argue that prior research in online learning has tested the impact of online courses on measures such as student retention rates, satisfaction scores, and GPA but that research is needed to describe the meanings students construct for mathematical ideas researchers have identified as critical to their success in future math courses and other STEM fields. This paper discusses the need for a new focus in studying online mathematics learning and calls for cognitive researchers to begin developing a productive methodology for examining the meanings students construct while engaged in online lessons.

Paper 3 describes the online Precalculus course intervention we designed around measurement imagery and quantitative reasoning as themes that unite topics across units. I report results relative to the meanings students developed for exponential functions and related ideas (such as percent change and growth factors) while working through lessons in the intervention. I provide a conceptual analysis guiding its design and discuss pre-test and pre-interview results, post-test and post-interview results, and observations from student behaviors while interacting with lessons. I demonstrate that the targeted meanings can be productive for students, show common unproductive meanings students possess as they enter Precalculus, highlight challenges and opportunities in teaching and learning in the online environment, and discuss needed adaptations to the intervention and future research opportunities informed by my results.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Conceptions of function composition in college precalculus students

Description

Past research has shown that students have difficulty developing a robust conception of function. However, little prior research has been performed dealing with student knowledge of function composition, a potentially

Past research has shown that students have difficulty developing a robust conception of function. However, little prior research has been performed dealing with student knowledge of function composition, a potentially powerful mathematical concept. This dissertation reports the results of an investigation into student understanding and use of function composition, set against the backdrop of a precalculus class that emphasized quantification and covariational reasoning. The data were collected using task-based, semi-structured clinical interviews with individual students outside the classroom. Findings from this study revealed that factors such as the student's quantitative reasoning, covariational reasoning, problem solving behaviors, and view of function influence how a student understands and uses function composition. The results of the study characterize some of the subtle ways in which these factors impact students' ability to understand and use function composition to solve problems. Findings also revealed that other factors such as a students' persistence, disposition towards "meaning making" for the purpose of conceptualizing quantitative relationships, familiarity with the context of a problem, procedural fluency, and student knowledge of rules of "order of operations" impact a students' progress in advancing her/his solution approach.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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An examination of the effect of a secondary teacher's image of instructional constraints on his enacted subject matter knowledge

Description

Teachers must recognize the knowledge they possess as appropriate to employ in the process of achieving their goals and objectives in the context of practice. Such recognition is subject to

Teachers must recognize the knowledge they possess as appropriate to employ in the process of achieving their goals and objectives in the context of practice. Such recognition is subject to a host of cognitive and affective processes that have thus far not been a central focus of research on teacher knowledge in mathematics education. To address this need, this dissertation study examined the role of a secondary mathematics teacher’s image of instructional constraints on his enacted subject matter knowledge. I collected data in three phases. First, I conducted a series of task-based clinical interviews that allowed me to construct a model of David’s mathematical knowledge of sine and cosine functions. Second, I conducted pre-lesson interviews, collected journal entries, and examined David’s instruction to characterize the mathematical knowledge he utilized in the context of designing and implementing lessons. Third, I conducted a series of semi-structured clinical interviews to identify the circumstances David appraised as constraints on his practice and to ascertain the role of these constraints on the quality of David’s enacted subject matter knowledge. My analysis revealed that although David possessed many productive ways of understanding that allowed him to engage students in meaningful learning experiences, I observed discrepancies between and within David’s mathematical knowledge and his enacted mathematical knowledge. These discrepancies were not occasioned by David’s active compensation for the circumstances and events he appraised as instructional constraints, but instead resulted from David possessing multiple schemes for particular ideas related to trigonometric functions, as well as from his unawareness of the mental actions and operations that comprised these often powerful but uncoordinated cognitive schemes. This lack of conscious awareness made David ill-equipped to define his instructional goals in terms of the mental activity in which he intended his students to engage, which further conditioned the circumstances and events he appraised as constraints on his practice. David’s image of instructional constraints therefore did not affect his enacted subject matter knowledge. Rather, characteristics of David’s subject matter knowledge, namely his uncoordinated cognitive schemes and his unawareness of the mental actions and operations that comprise them, affected his image of instructional constraints.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015