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Studying the views of preservice teachers on the concept of function

by Hansson, Örjan, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis consists of an overview of the subject, where in particular five papers are put into a frame. The research conducted for the thesis concerns the views of preservice teachers on the concept of function. Preservice teachers' conceptions of the function concept are in particular examined in relation to mathematical statements that can be related to different topics on a variety of levels in mathematics; in this research, concept mapping technique is a research tool of interest. Questions concerning preservice teachers' conceptions of the significance of functions in mathematics, and the presence of functions in school mathematics, are also considered relevant aspects of their views of functions. The final part of the research study includes an intervention study regarding the concept of function, located to a calculus course as one of the concluding courses in mathematics on the educational programme. There is a range of findings from the study that is summarized and further discussed in the overview part of the thesis. One result, is that preservice teachers in their reasoning show signs of knowledge compartmentalization which is an issue of concern in their development of conceptual frameworks rich in meaningful connections. This might have consequences for their abilities to operate in a constructivist environment and reason with their students from different points of view. The function concepts' large network of relations to other concepts is frequently omitted in the preservice teachers' reasoning. One reason for this is that to preservice teachers, properties of functions seem to be results of isolated procedures, associated with operational conceptions rather than structural conceptions of functions. The findings imply that preservice teachers should encounter functions in a variety of context, to develop their views of the concept of function - including frameworks rich of meaningful relations - and realize that the concept of function is one of the underlying concepts of mathematics, and an important concept to introduce to their future students. The preservice teachers' reflections concerning functions in school mathematics contribute to emphasize the significance of the process of transformation of subject matter knowledge to pedagogical content knowledge. Further results of the research study, and an outline of the implications, are included in the concluding discussion of the overview part of the thesis. The preservice teachers participating in the study are enrolled in a four and a half year teacher preparation program in mathematics and science, grades 4 to 9. The five papers included in the thesis, describe parts of a larger study essentially conducted until the sixth term during the concluding mathematics courses of the program.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Luleå tekniska universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Social sciences; Education

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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