Function as a Core Concept in Developmental Mathematics: A Research Report.Report as inadecuate

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Due to the large number of students requiring developmental college math courses, a study was conducted to determine if a beginning algebra course focusing on function and integrating technology as a tool to explore mathematics would aid students with previously debilitating experiences in math. The study evaluated 92 students enrolled in pilot sections of beginning algebra at 4 community colleges. Some students participated in interviews, and all completed written function surveys at the beginning and end of the course. Students' proficiency levels were measured for colloquial, symbolic, numeric, geometric, written, and notation facets for functions. Data analysis concluded that: the function concept is accessible to the developmental student; function machines are a reasonable entry point; students remained weak on the geometric facet; function notation was interpreted inconsistently; use of prototypes with the symbolic facet was common; constant functions caused confusion; requirement for exactly one output was applied inconsistently; it was very difficult to neutralize the effects of prior learning; and connecting facets proved difficult. Curriculum reforms should include more attention to the geometric facet and integration of facets, discussion of function as an object, a focus on best uses of each facet, and no graphing calculators. (YKH)

Descriptors: Algebra, College Mathematics, Community Colleges, Computer Uses in Education, Concept Formation, Concept Teaching, Course Evaluation, Developmental Studies Programs, Educational Assessment, Functions (Mathematics), High Risk Students, Mathematical Aptitude, Mathematical Concepts, Outcomes of Education, Remedial Mathematics, Student Characteristics, Two Year College Students, Two Year Colleges

Author: DeMarois, Philip


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