Matching Items (16)
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.
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.
Research on combinatorics education is sparse when compared with other fields in mathematics education. This research attempted to contribute to the dearth of literature by examining students' reasoning about enumerative combinatorics problems and how students conceptualize the set of elements being counted in such problems, called the solution set. In particular, the focus was on the stable patterns of reasoning, known as ways of thinking, which students applied in a variety of combinatorial situations and tasks. This study catalogued students' ways of thinking about solution sets as they progressed through an instructional sequence. In addition, the relationships between the catalogued ways of thinking were explored. Further, the study investigated the challenges students experienced as they interacted with the tasks and instructional interventions, and how students' ways of thinking evolved as these challenges were overcome. Finally, it examined the role of instruction in guiding students to develop and extend their ways of thinking. Two pairs of undergraduate students with no formal experience with combinatorics participated in one of the two consecutive teaching experiments conducted in Spring 2012. Many ways of thinking emerged through the grounded theory analysis of the data, but only eight were identified as robust. These robust ways of thinking were classified into three categories: Subsets, Odometer, and Problem Posing. The Subsets category encompasses two ways of thinking, both of which ultimately involve envisioning the solution set as the union of subsets. The three ways of thinking in Odometer category involve holding an item or a set of items constant and systematically varying the other items involved in the counting process. The ways of thinking belonging to Problem Posing category involve spontaneously posing new, related combinatorics problems and finding relationships between the solution sets of the original and the new problem. The evolution of students' ways of thinking in the Problem Posing category was analyzed. This entailed examining the perturbation experienced by students and the resulting accommodation of their thinking. It was found that such perturbation and its resolution was often the result of an instructional intervention. Implications for teaching practice are discussed.
This dissertation reports on three studies about students’ conceptions and learning of the idea of instantaneous rate of change. The first study investigated 25 students’ conceptions of the idea of instantaneous rate of change. The second study proposes a hypothetical learning trajectory, based on the literature and results from the first study, for learning the idea of instantaneous rate of change. The third study investigated two students’ thinking and learning in the context of a sequence of five exploratory teaching interviews. The first paper reports on the results of conducting clinical interviews with 25 students. The results revealed the diverse conceptions that Calculus students have about the value of a derivative at a given input value. The results also suggest that students’ interpretation of the value of a rate of change is related to their use of covariational reasoning when considering how two quantities’ values vary together.
The second paper presents a conceptual analysis on the ways of thinking needed to develop a productive understanding of instantaneous rate of change. This conceptual analysis includes an ordered list of understandings and reasoning abilities that I hypothesize to be essential for understanding the idea of instantaneous rate of change. This paper also includes a sequence of tasks and questions I designed to support students in developing the ways of thinking and meanings described in my conceptual analysis.
The third paper reports on the results of five exploratory teaching interviews that leveraged my hypothetical learning trajectory from the second paper. The results of this teaching experiment indicate that developing a coherent understanding of rate of change using quantitative reasoning can foster advances in students’ understanding of instantaneous rate of change as a constant rate of change over an arbitrarily small input interval of a function’s domain.
This study investigates several students’ interpretations and meanings for negations of various mathematical statements with quantifiers, and how their meanings for quantified variables impact their interpretations and denials of these quantified statements. Eight students participated in three separate exploratory teaching interviews and were selected from Transition-to-Proof and advanced mathematics courses beyond Transition-to-Proof. In the first interview, students were asked to interpret mathematical statements from Calculus contexts and provide justifications and refutations for why these statements are true or false in particular situations. In the second interview, students were asked to negate the same set of mathematical statements. Both sets of interviews were analyzed to determine students’ meanings for the quantified variables in the statements, and then these meanings were used to determine how students’ quantifications influenced their interpretations, denials, and evaluations for the quantified statements. In the final interview, students were also be asked to interpret and negation statements from different mathematical contexts. All three interviews were used to determine what meanings comprised students’ interpretations and denials for the given statements. Additionally, students’ interpretations and negations across different statements in the interviews were analyzed and then compared within students and across students to determine if there were differences in student denials across different moments.
Construction is a defining characteristic of geometry classes. In a traditional classroom, teachers and students use physical tools (i.e. a compass and straight-edge) in their constructions. However, with modern technology, construction is possible through the use of digital applications such as GeoGebra and Geometer’s SketchPad.
Many other studies have researched the benefits of digital manipulatives and digital environments through student completion of tasks and testing. This study intends to research students’ use of the digital tools and manipulatives, along with the students’ interactions with the digital environment. To this end, I conducted exploratory teaching experiments with two calculus I students.
In the exploratory teaching experiments, students were introduced to a GeoGebra application developed by Fischer (2019), which includes instructional videos and corresponding quizzes, as well as exercises and interactive notepads, where students could use digital tools to construct line segments and circles (corresponding to the physical straight-edge and compass). The application built up the students’ foundational knowledge, culminating in the construction and verbal proof of Euclid’s Elements, Proposition 1 (Euclid, 1733).
The central findings of this thesis are the students’ interactions with the digital environment, with observed changes in their conceptions of radii and circles, and in their use of tools. The students were observed to have conceptions of radii as a process, a geometric shape, and a geometric object. I observed the students’ conceptions of a circle change from a geometric shape to a geometric object, and with that change, observed the students’ use of tools change from a measuring focus to a property focus.
I report a summary of the students’ work and classify their reasoning and actions into the above categories, and an analysis of how the digital environment impacts the students’ conceptions. I also briefly discuss the impact of the findings on pedagogy and future research.
Eleven years after being put into practice, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics still take a back seat as traditional approaches drive many secondary geometry classrooms, specifically in regard to congruence. This thesis explores how university students reason about congruence based on their high school learning experience, as well as how in-service geometry teachers reason about and teach congruence. During the Summer of 2020, two distinct surveys were distributed to 33 undergraduate students at Arizona State University and two in-service geometry teachers in Arizona to characterize the ways they understand congruence and reflect on their experiences in secondary geometry classrooms. The results of the survey indicate that students who understood congruence either in terms of corresponding measurements or transformations were successful in identifying congruent shapes, while only students who understood congruence in terms of transformations were successful in constructing congruent shapes. Transformational reasoning was both the most productive and the least prominent way of understanding congruence among students. Their responses to activities and reflections on their experiences also suggested that deductive reasoning is not practiced or prioritized in many secondary geometry classrooms. Teacher understandings of congruence varied, and reflections suggested that development of materials and training that are aligned with the goals of CCSSM for both pre-service and in-service teachers would help teachers create an environment conducive to a transformational understanding of congruence and that promotes deductive reasoning.
Today, there is a gap between the effectiveness of learning online and learning in person. Online educational videos such as ones found on Youtube mimic more of a lecture style of learning, which is easy ignore without a teacher nearby to engage the viewer. Furthermore, there is a lack of educational videos on the topic of Euclid’s Elements geometry proofs. This project remedies both accounts by offering a new approach on interactive online learning videos and exercises for the topic of Euclid’s Elements Book One, Propositions One and Two. This is accomplished by combining interactive videos, exercises, questions, and sketchpads into one online worksheet. The interactive videos are made using traditional methods of audio and visual elements, with an emphasis on having more dynamic visuals to engage with the viewer. The exercises are made using a program called Geogebra, and consist in having a question to solve, and diagram the use can manipulate to help solve the question. The questions consist in ensuring the viewer understands the material, as well as potential questions to gauge general understanding before and after using the worksheet. The sketchpads consist in stating the proposition being proved, and giving the user all the tools they need to construct or prove the Euclidean proposition in the online interactive environment offered by Geogebra. All of these components are then ordered into the worksheet to make an interactive online learning experience for the viewer. This way the viewer may both watch and actively use the material being presented to promote learning through engagement in a teacher-less environment.
This study sought to replicate previous work in student conceptions of formal proofs based on informal arguments, originally explored by Zazkis et al. (2016). Additional tasks were added to the experiment to produce new data that could further verify the analysis of Zazkis et al. (2016) as well as provide more insight into how students comprehend proofs, what types of mistakes occur, and why. Results from one-on-one interviews confirmed that some students were not able to make accurate informal to formal comparisons because they were not considering multiple facets of the problem. Additionally, patterns in the students’ analysis introduced more questions concerning the motivations behind what students choose to think about when they read and dissect proofs.
This thesis is an extension of previous research done by Roh and Lee (2018). Their research involved the design and implementation of a survey to analyze students’ cognitive inconsistencies. This thesis expands upon this research to interview students who demonstrated logical inconsistencies and evaluates the kinds of struggles students faced while evaluating statements and validating arguments. Three students who demonstrated logical inconsistencies were interviewed and asked to answer questions originally pulled from Roh and Lee’s (2018) survey. This thesis found that there were many aspects of each section of the survey that students had struggled with, including use of intuition, analyzing a proof-by-contradiction that utilized a negated statement, and distrust of alternate proving methods. Overall, these techniques the students used while evaluating statements and validating arguments gives interesting insight into the pedagogy of teaching proofs.