Learners' strategies for solving linear equations

Jonklass, Raymond (2002-12)

Thesis (MEd)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Algebra deals amongst others with the relationship between variables. It differs from Arithmetic amongst others as there is not always a numerical solution to the problem. An algebraic expression can even be the solution to the problem in Algebra. The variables found in Algebra are often represented by letters such as X, y, etc. Equations are an integral part of Algebra. To solve an equation, the value of an unknown must be determined so that the left hand side of the equation is equal to the right hand side. There are various ways in which the solving of equations can be taught. The purpose of this study is to determine the existence of a cognitive gap as described by Herseovies & Linchevski (1994) in relation to solving linear equations. When solving linear equations, an arithmetical approach is not always effective. A new way of structural thinking is needed when solving linear equations in their different forms. In this study, learners' intuitive, informal ways of solving linear equations were examined prior to any formal instruction and before the introduction of algebraic symbols and notation. This information could help educators to identify the difficulties learners have when moving from solving arithmetical equations to algebraic equations. The learners' errors could help educators plan effective ways of teaching strategies when solving linear equations. The research strategy for this study was both quantitative and qualitative. Forty-two Grade 8 learners were chosen to individually do assignments involving different types of linear equations. Their responses were recorded, coded and summarised. Thereafter the learners' responses were interpreted, evaluated and analysed. Then a representative sample of fourteen learners was chosen randomly from the same class and semi-structured interviews were conducted with them From these interviews the learners' ways of thinking when solving linear equations, were probed. This study concludes that a cognitive gap does exist in the context of the investigation. Moving from arithmetical thinking to algebraic thinking requires a paradigm shift. To make adequate provision for this change in thinking, careful curriculum planning is required.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Algebra behels onder andere die verwantskap tussen veranderlikes. Algebra verskil van Rekenkunde onder andere omdat daar in Algebra nie altyd 'n numeriese oplossing vir die probleem is nie. InAlgebra kan 'n algebraïese uitdrukking somtyds die oplossing van 'n probleem wees. Die veranderlikes in Algebra word dikwels deur letters soos x, y, ens. voorgestel. Vergelykings is 'n integrale deel van Algebra. Om vergelykings op te los, moet 'n onbekende se waarde bepaal word, om die linkerkant van die vergelyking gelyk te maak aan die regterkant. Daar is verskillende maniere om die oplossing van algebraïese vergelykings te onderrig. Die doel van hierdie studie is om die bestaan van 'n sogenaamde "kognitiewe gaping" soos beskryf deur Herseovies & Linchevski (1994), met die klem op lineêre vergelykings, te ondersoek. Wanneer die oplossing van 'n linêere vergelyking bepaal word, is 'n rekenkundige benadering nie altyd effektiefnie. 'n Heel nuwe, strukturele manier van denke word benodig wanneer verskillende tipes linêere vergelykings opgelos word. In hierdie studie word leerders se intuitiewe, informele metodes ondersoek wanneer hulle lineêre vergelykings oplos, voordat hulle enige formele metodes onderrig is en voordat hulle kennis gemaak het met algebraïese simbole en notasie. Hierdie inligting kan opvoeders help om leerders se kognitiewe probleme in verband met die verskil tussen rekenkundige en algebraïese metodes te identifiseer.Die foute wat leerders maak, kan opvoeders ook help om effektiewe onderrigmetodes te beplan, wanneer hulle lineêre vergelykings onderrig. As leerders eers die skuif van rekenkundige metodes na algebrarese metodes gemaak het, kan hulle besef dat hul primitiewe metodes nie altyd effektief is nie. Die navorsingstrategie wat in hierdie studie aangewend is, is kwalitatief en kwantitatief Twee-en-veertig Graad 8 leerders is gekies om verskillende tipes lineêre vergelykings individueel op te los. Hul antwoorde is daarna geïnterpreteer, geëvalueer en geanaliseer. Daarna is veertien leerders uit hierdie groep gekies en semigestruktureerde onderhoude is met hulle gevoer. Vanuit die onderhoude kon 'n dieper studie van die leerders se informele metodes van oplossing gemaak word. Die gevolgtrekking wat in hierdie studie gemaak word, is dat daar wel 'n kognitiewe gaping bestaan in die konteks van die studie. Leerders moet 'n paradigmaskuif maak wanneer hulle van rekenkundige metodes na algebraïese metodes beweeg. Hierdie klemverskuiwing vereis deeglike kurrikulumbeplanning.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52915
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