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Ph D. Scholar, Dept of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Mohd. Mamur Ali
Guest Faculty & Ph. D. Scholar, Faculty of Education, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Assistant Professor, Department of Elementary Education, Miranda House, Delhi University
A mathematical idea or procedure is understood if its mental representation is part of a network of representations (Hiebert & Carpenter,1992).
A piece of mathematics is understood if one can Explain mathematical concepts and facts in terms of simpler concepts and facts. Easily make logical connections between different facts and concepts. Recognize the connection when you encounter something new (inside or outside of mathematics) that's close to the mathematics you understand. Identify the principles in the given piece of mathematics that make everything work. (Alfeld, 2004). Understanding is a context-dependent concept. It is clear that understanding can vary in degree or completeness.
Some of the Indian researches are focussed on the
Students’ achievement in mathematics (Patel, 1984; Tiwari,
1986; Nilima Kumari, 1984; Gakhar, 1981; Jabbal, 1981; Nalinidevi, 1976; Katiyar's 1979)
Achievement in algebra (Joshi, 1970; Chauhan, 1982)
Error committed by students in algebraic and geometric
concepts (Bhatia, 1998; ; Singh, 1986 ; Bannerji, 2000, Rooprai,2002).
Reviews related to Understanding of Geometrical Concepts
There are studies (Alam, 1986 ; Obad, 1989; Kaul,1990) that investigated
the relationship of maturation of space concept and of concept imagery with achievement of geometrical concepts” findings of the study revealed that conceptual maturity of a child is positively related to his stage of development at a particular age as self evident truths occurs in the course of growth between ages of 5th and 7th and are understood in order different from the order it is given.
Gupta, (1989) has found that the understanding of axioms in geometry
Alqabbas (2001) did a study with two basic purposes i) understanding
students learning strategies which they use to solve problems in mathematics ii) Investigating the effectiveness of the teaching programme in mathematics with additional emphasis on teaching learning strategies. The most important finding is that explicit teaching of learning strategies while teaching mathematics at elementary level helps students in improving their performance.
Rooprai (2002) identified errors in solving geometrical problems using questionnaire and achievement test. Findings Different types and classifications of errors viz. conceptual, comprehension; procedural and calculative.
Major causes of errors in geometry is attitude towards
geometry, poor understandings of geometry problems and lack of practice.
Kaur (2010) studied Developmental Changes in Conceptual Understanding: A Study of Concepts of ‘Triangle’ and ‘Circle’ in Classes V and VII
The focus to compare the perceptual and lexical aspects, to investigate the figural aspects, overall understanding of these concepts and social factors(Pedagogical Practices in mathematics, Support available at home regarding learning mathematics, Resources available at school for mathematics.) contributing to the understanding of the students. The analysis Theoretical framework of the Houdement and kuzniak’ s geometrical paradigms (2003) , Fischbein theory of figural concepts (1993) and the mathematical meaning of ‘Triangle’.
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES:
Study was conducted in two phases Phase 1 included the following tools and techniques: In order to investigate what the word ‘Triangle’ and ‘circle’ evoke in the mind of the pupils, Four activity were prepared (Vighi, 2005) Drawing Brainstorming Defining Identification
Classroom Observations were done in order to explore the
pedagogical practices follow by teachers. Semi structured interview for teachers for further information about the pedagogical practices. Information schedule for students to get demographic information
ACTIVITY SHEETS FOR STUDENTS
Activity One: Drawing Students were asked to draw 4 different triangles and three different circles, using a sheet of blank paper and they were free to draw either using geometrical tools or free hand. Following tasks were carried out: Draw a triangle Draw a different triangle Draw another different triangle Draw another triangle different from all three. The children were also asked to explain the choices they made in their drawing and to explain the ‘differences.
Activity Two: Brainstorming
In order to further investigate, Brainstorming activity was carried out. Each child was asked about the think of a word ‘triangle’ and to draw everything that the word suggest and they see around.
Activity Three: Defining Children were asked to give written explanation of what they mean by ‘triangle’ in their own words.
Activity Four: Identification
Children were asked to look at different shapes and their
features, identify their main characteristics and decide whether those are triangle or non triangle.
As far as developments of these concepts are concerned, researcher found a huge gap between the personal and geometrical meaning of the concepts among students of class V and VII.
Some of the major findings related to the Development of the concept Triangle are as following:
Most of the students gave explanation about the difference that was based upon perceptual aspect of geometrical Orientation i.e. vertex with changing directions (Threja,2010)
Another significant aspect is that the need for diversification led a number of children to change the sides of the triangle. They thus obtained what they referred to as a “moved”, ‘inclined’ triangle’, or a triangle with curved sides or even, more surprising, a triangle where outer sides are designed. Thus many children do not have the idea of side or rather they have, a very specific idea, certainly not Euclidean.
The most significant result however was that the triangle is essentially the same, equilateral and with one side horizontal. It is “the” triangle; some children call it the “normal/simple triangle”. Students have a perception about triangle which should have a horizontal base and a point. The plausible explanation is that this type of triangle is usually drawn by their teacher or most of the time it is in their textbooks. Looking at the changes from class V to class VII there is not much difference found in the drawing of triangles as most of the students drew acute angled triangle which is considered as prototype (Hershkowitz, Vinner and Bruckheimer, 1987) of the triangle except very few students of class VII who drew right angled triangle as different one.
Though there is an improvement in the answers of class VII students than class V, analysis of the data shows that instruction provided in the class may responsible for the quality of answers with regard to the control exerted by the conceptual constraints on the figural interpretation of geometrical entities as the attributes explained by the most of the students while defining ‘Triangle’ were not being used while identifying those figures (consistent with on field experiences by Ashu Threja 2010).
Analysis of the data also shows that class V and VII students still belong to Geometrical Paradigm 1 (Houdement and Kuzniak,2003), as responses of most of the students were based more on intuition and experience than on properties and definitions. Here to note that as per the three paradigms of geometry, students should be able to use geometrical instruments in paradigm 1, but most of the class V students were not able to handle the compass.
Another significant aspect that emerges which is consistent with what Duval explains about three cognitive processes i.e. student could not draw equilateral triangle though he knows what it is. It means development of reasoning or visualization does not assure the development of construction.
On field experiences (Threja,2010) observe the following difficulties in understanding geometrical concepts at the middle grades:
Learners are not able to explore different shapes and cite the difference between the varied shapes with respect to the relationships between the corresponding elements of varied geometrical shapes.
They often lack the knowledge of the language associated with the spatial concepts
Spatial concepts and skills that were not well learned in the primary years cause problems into middle school learning of geometry.
Reviews related to understanding algebra
Chauhan (1982) evaluated the students’ achievement in algebra of class X students in Delhi schools. Number correlates, arithmetic operational sequence and numbers group property were the best predictors of achievement in mathematics. General algebraic reasoning was identified as the only factor common to tests in algebra. Bannerji (2000) identified learning difficulties in elementary algebraic concepts namely literal numbers, base, exponent, constant, variables, coefficients, and algebraic expressions and their causes. She found a very high error rate in defining the above mentioned concepts and stating the rules of addition and subtraction of like terms and algebraic expressions, identification of constants, variables, types of algebraic expressions, base and exponents in the exponential forms etc.
Ali (2008) studied the understanding of the Algebraic concept ‘Linear Equations with one variable’ of the students of grade VII. The major focus of the study To investigate the students’ understanding of linear equations and the difficulties faced by them in solving the linear equations using In-depth interview with an achievement test Analysis Coding system to identify different solution procedures
Findings of the study
The students have a procedural thinking of solving equations such as they have to subtract the number by shifting from one side of the equal sign to the other and unknown should be always on the left side of the equal sign. Meaning of equal sign ( Threja, 2010)
The results also showed the students' inability to operate with or on the unknown.
The study also explored other difficulties such as a tendency to ignore the minus sign preceding the number and problems in the acceptance that unknown number may come on right side of the equal sign and number on the right side. The results were also consistent with the findings of Herscovics and Linchevski, 1994.
On field experiences (Threja,2010) observe the following difficulties in understanding Algebraic concepts at the middle grades: Learners find it difficult to internalize that the variables can be used as unique values or as quantities that vary. It’s observed that the students think of the former and not the latter. Learners find it difficult to write the statements given in ordinary language to algebraic expressions and equations. Student teachers find difficulty to link between children’s ability to process written and spoken language, with their ability to process symbols in mathematical context. They also find difficulty in formulating their own contextual situations which are familiar to them and expressing as algebraic expressions and equations.
Simplifying expressions and equations: Students are unsure of what steps to do and when and how to apply mathematical properties. It’s observed that learners find it difficult to preserve equivalence as they continue to simplify. They do not focus on whole of the expression rather follow a mechanical left to right approach in reaching a solution.
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