A multifaceted approach to teaching algebra: students' understanding of variable

Salma Tahir, Michael Cavanagh, Michael Mitchelmore

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

    Abstract

    The concept of a variable can be a major cause of student difficult v in learning algebra. We propose studying different aspects of variables (unknown, function and generalized number) in parallel with each other using real contexts to associate meaning with the variable involved. We call this a multifaceted approach to teaching algebra. We are investigating whether studying the application of variables using multi-representational environments before moving on to symbol manipulations can reduce student misconceptions and improve algebra performance. Here we report preliminary results of a two-year longitudinal case study of a teaching intervention in one school. Results show that experimental classes demonstrated fewer misconceptions regarding variables as compared to the comparison classes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 33rd conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education
    EditorsMarianna Tzekaki, Maria Kaldrimidou, Haralambos Sakonidis
    Place of PublicationTessaloniki, Greece
    PublisherInternational Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
    Pages217-224
    Number of pages8
    Volume5
    ISBN (Print)9789602436578
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventConference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (33rd : 2009) - Thessaloniki, Greece
    Duration: 19 Jul 200924 Jul 2009

    Publication series

    NamePME Conference Proceedings
    PublisherInternational Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
    ISSN (Print)0771-100X

    Conference

    ConferenceConference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (33rd : 2009)
    CountryGreece
    CityThessaloniki
    Period19/07/0924/07/09

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