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”Vad skulle x kunna vara?”: andragradsekvation och andragradsfunktion som objekt för lärande
Umeå University, Faculty of Teacher Education, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Algebraic equations and functions play an important role in various mathematical topics, including algebra, trigonometry, linear programming and calculus. Accordingly, various documents, such as the most recent Swedish curriculum (Lpf 94) for upper secondary school and the course syllabi in mathematics, specify what the students should learn in Mathematics Course B. They should be able to solve quadratic equations and apply this knowledge in solving problems, explain the properties of a function, as well as be able to set up, interpret and use some nonlinear functions as models for real processes. To implement these recommendations, it is crucial to understand the students’ way of experiencing quadratic equations and functions, and describe the meaning these have for the students in relation to the possibility they have to their experience of them.

The aim of this thesis is to analyse, understand and explain the relation between the handled and learned content, which consists of second-degree equations and quadratic functions, in classroom practice. This means that content is the research object and not the teacher’s conceptions or knowledge of, or about this content. This restriction implies that the handled and learned contents are central in this study and will be analysed from different perspectives.

The study includes two teachers and 45 students in two different classes. The data consist of video-recordings of lessons, individual sessions, interviews and the teachers’/researcher’s review of the individual sessions. The students’ tests also constituted an important part of the data collection.

When analysing the data, concepts relating to variation theory have been used as analytical tools. Data have been analysed in respect of the teachers’ focus on the lesson content, which aspects are ignored and which patterns of dimensions of variations are constituted when the contents are handled by the teachers in the classroom. Also, data have been analysed in respect of the students’ focus when they solve different exercises in a test situation. It can be shown that the meaning of parameters, the unknown quantity in an equation and the function’s argument change several times when the teacher presents the content in the classroom and when the students solve different exercises. It can also be shown that the teachers and the students develop complicated patterns of variation during the lessons and that the ways in which the teachers open up dimensions of variation play an important role in the learning process. The results indicate that there is a convergent variation leading the students to improve their learning. By focusing on some aspects of the objects of learning and create convergent variations, it is possible for the students to understand the difference between various interpretations of these aspects and thereafter focus on the interpretation that fits in a certain context. Furthermore, this variation leads the students to make generalisations in each object of learning (equations and functions) and between these objects of learning. These generalisations remain over time, despite working with new objects of learning. An important result in this study is that the implicit or explicit arguments of a function can make it possible to discern an equation from a function despite the fact that they are constituted by the same algebraic expression.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Högskolan Kristianstad, Institutionen för beteendevetenskap , 2007. , 347 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar inom den Nationella Forskarskolan i Pedagogiskt Arbete, ISSN 1653-6894 ; 1653-6894Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 1650-8858Skrifter utgivna vid högskolan Kristianstad, ISSN 1404-9066 ; 1404-9066
Keyword [en]
parameters, unknown quantity, argument, second degree equations, quadratic functions, teaching, mathematics education, experience, theory of variation, dimensions of variation
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1363ISBN: 978-91-7264-394-9OAI: diva2:140767
Public defence
2007-10-12, sal 7-318 (aulan), Högskolan Kristianstad, Elmetorpsvägen 15, Kristianstad, 10:00
Available from: 2007-09-21 Created: 2007-09-21Bibliographically approved

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