High School Learners Mental Construction during Solving Optimisation Problems in Calculus: A South African Case StudyReport as inadecuate




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South African Journal of Education, v33 n2 Article 679 2013

This qualitative case study in a rural school in Umgungundlovu District in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, explored Grade 12 learners' mental constructions of mathematical knowledge during engagement with optimisation problems. Ten Grade 12 learners who do pure Mathemat-ics participated, and data were collected through structured activity sheets and semi-structured interviews. Structured activity sheets with three tasks were given to learners; these tasks were done in groups, and the group leaders were interviewed. It was found that learners tended to do well with routine-type questions, implying that they were functioning at an action level. From the interviews it appeared that learners might have the correct answer, but lacked conceptual understanding. Exploring learners' mental constructions via their responses to activity sheets and interviews enabled common errors and misconceptions to be identified. Themes that emerged were that learners: 1) lacked the understanding of notation dy/dx, 2) had not constructed the derivative and minima/maxima schema, 3) had some difficulty in modelling problems, 4) preferred rules and formulas, and 5) applied algebraic notions incorrectly. Inferences are drawn for curriculum developers and teachers. This study also formulated itemised genetic decompositions for particular tasks, which contribute to APOS theory.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, High School Students, Problem Solving, Calculus, Qualitative Research, Case Studies, Rural Schools, Grade 12, Worksheets, Semi Structured Interviews, Misconceptions, Secondary School Mathematics, Cognitive Structures

Education Association of South Africa. University of Pretoria, Centre for the Study of Resilience, Level 3, Groenkloof Student Centre, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, George Storrar Road and Lleyds Street, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. Tel: +27-12-420-5798; Fax: +27-12-420-5511; Web site: http://www.sajournalofeducation.co.za/index.php/saje/index





Author: Brijlall, Deonarain; Ndlovu, Zanele

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=2345&id=EJ1136053



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