Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Investigating flexibility, reversibility, and multiple representations in a calculus environment
by Flanders, Steven Todd, Ed.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2014, 497; 3690743
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigates the development of flexibility and reversibility in a calculus environment that attends to linking multiple representations. Reversibility was studied through Krutetskii’s framework of reversibility of two-way processes and reversibility of the mental process in reasoning. The study was conducted over approximately four months in a high school calculus classroom in an urban school district in a mid-Atlantic state. Instruction attended to linking multiple representations whenever possible. Four types of data were collected: 1) a pre-test, 2) a post-test, 3) daily assessments, and 4) clinical interviews. Twenty-one students completed a pretest and post-test that together assessed development of flexibility over the course of the study. They also completed daily assessments that were collected to provide evidence of the development of reversibility during the course of the study. Six students participated in four clinical interviews each, spread throughout the study. Inferential statistics were used to compare the results of the pre-test and post-test for significant differences and to determine significant differences in the presence of reversibility on the daily assessments over the course of the study. The clinical interviews were analyzed for evidence of students’ thought processes while solving reversible questions. Analysis revealed that over the course of the study, students demonstrated significant increases in both flexibility and reversibility. Two-way reversibility seemed to develop with relative ease for most students and often developed simultaneously with learning a forward process. Developing reversibility of the mental process in reasoning was difficult and tended to develop simultaneously with learning in a forward direction for students with high levels of flexibility. For students who did not develop reversibility simultaneously with forward learning, both two-way reversibility and reversibility of the mental process in reasoning were able to develop through multiple opportunities to solve reversible tasks of similar content. Analysis of the clinical interviews indicated that students typically followed a 4-step thought process when using reversibility to solve problems. Implications and limitations of the study and areas of further research were discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ansell, Ellen
Commitee:
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Instruction and Learning
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mathematics education, Secondary education
Keywords: Calculus, Flexibility, Multiple representation, Problem solving, Reversibility, Secondary education
Publication Number: 3690743
ISBN: 978-1-321-61495-4
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