Problem solving strategies and mathematical resources: A longitudinal view on problem solving in a function based approach to algebra

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Abstract

This study is an attempt to analyze students' construction of function based problem solving methods in introductory algebra. It claims that for functions to be a main concept for learning school algebra, a complex process that has to be developed during a long period of learning must take place. The article describes a longitudinal observation of a pair of students that studied algebra for 3 years using a function approach, including intensive use of graphing technology. Such a long observation is difficult to carry out and even more difficult to report. We watched for three years classrooms using the 'Visual-Math' sequence, and sampled students that exhibited various levels of mathematics achievement. The analysis method presented here is a non-standard case study of a pair of lower achievers students and their work is often juxtaposed to the work of other pairs participating in the study. The students' attempts to solve a linear break-even problem is analyzed along three interviews which present the development of the use of mathematical resources and the patterns of problem solving at different learning phases. Beyond describing solving attempts, the article offers terms for describing and explaining what and how do learners appreciate and make out of solving introductory school algebra problems over a three years course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-147
Number of pages23
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Graphing Technology
  • Longitudinal study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (all)
  • Education

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