How Students Think When Doing Algebra

by Steve Rhine, Rachel Harrington & Colin Starr
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eBook

Publisher: Information Age Publishing

Publication Date: November 01, 2018

ISBN: 9781641134132

Binding: Kobo eBook

Availability: eBook

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Algebra is the gateway to college and careers, yet it functions as the eye of the needle because of low pass rates for the middle school/high school course and students’ struggles to understand. We have forty years of research that discusses the ways students think and their cognitive challenges as they engage with algebra. This book is a response to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) call to better link research and practice by capturing what we have learned about students’ algebraic thinking in a way that is usable by teachers as they prepare lessons or reflect on their experiences in the classroom. Through a Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant, 17 teachers and mathematics educators read through the past 40 years of research on students’ algebraic thinking to capture what might be useful information for teachers to know—over 1000 articles altogether. The resulting five domains addressed in the book (Variables & Expressions, Algebraic Relations, Analysis of Change, Patterns & Functions, and Modeling & Word Problems) are closely tied to CCSS topics. Over time, veteran math teachers develop extensive knowledge of how students engage with algebraic concepts—their misconceptions, ways of thinking, and when and how they are challenged to understand—and use that knowledge to anticipate students’ struggles with particular lessons and plan accordingly. Veteran teachers learn to evaluate whether an incorrect response is a simple error or the symptom of a faulty or naïve understanding of a concept. Novice teachers, on the other hand, lack the experience to anticipate important moments in the learning of their students. They often struggle to make sense of what students say in the classroom and determine whether the response is useful or can further discussion (Leatham, Stockero, Peterson, & Van Zoest 2011; Peterson & Leatham, 2009). The purpose of this book is to accelerate early career teachers’ ...