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An analysis of the influence of question design on pupils' approaches to number pattern generalisation tasks

by Samson, D. A.

Abstract (Summary)
This study is based on a qualitative investigation framed within an interpretive paradigm, and aims to investigate the extent to which question design affects the solution strategies adopted by children when solving linear number pattern generalisation tasks presented in pictorial and numeric contexts. The research tool comprised a series of 22 pencil and paper exercises based on linear generalisation tasks set in both numeric and 2-dimensional pictorial contexts. The responses to these linear generalisation questions were classified by means of stage descriptors as well as stage modifiers. The method or strategy adopted was carefully analysed and classified into one of seven categories. A meta-analysis focused on the formula derived for the nth term in conjunction with its justification. The process of justification proved to be a critical factor in being able to accurately interpret the origin of the sub-structure evident in many of these responses. From a theoretical perspective, the central role of justification/proof within the context of this study is seen as communication of mathematical understanding, and the process of justification/proof proved to be highly successful in providing a window of understanding into each pupil’s cognitive reasoning. The results of this study strongly support the notion that question design can play a critical role in influencing pupils’ choice of strategy and level of attainment when solving pattern generalisation tasks. Furthermore, this study identified a diverse range of visually motivated strategies and mechanisms of visualisation. An awareness and appreciation for such a diversity of visualisation strategies, as well as an understanding of the importance of appropriate question design, has direct pedagogical application within the context of the mathematics classroom.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:education

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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