A couple of new articles have been published online in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Several are so-called classroom notes (see this link for full list), and then there are these two original articles:
- Pilot study on algebra learning among junior secondary students, by Kin-Keung Poon and Chi-Keung Leung. Abstract: The purpose of the study reported herein was to identify the common mistakes made by junior secondary students in Hong Kong when learning algebra and to compare teachers’ perceptions of students’ ability with the results of an algebra test. An algebra test was developed and administered to a sample of students (aged between 13 and 14 years). From the responses of the participating students (N = 815), it was found that students in schools with a higher level of academic achievement had better algebra test results than did those in schools with a lower level of such achievement. Moreover, it was found that a teacher’s perception of a student’s ability has a correlation with that student’s level of achievement. Based on this finding, an instrument that measures teaching effectiveness is discussed. Last but not least, typical errors in algebra are identified, and some ideas for an instructional design based on these findings are discussed.
- Student connections of linear algebra concepts: an analysis of concept maps, by Douglas A. Lapp, Melvin A. Nyman and John S. Berry. Abstract: This article examines the connections of linear algebra concepts in a first course at the undergraduate level. The theoretical underpinnings of this study are grounded in the constructivist perspective (including social constructivism), Vernaud’s theory of conceptual fields and Pirie and Kieren’s model for the growth of mathematical understanding. In addition to the existing techniques for analysing concept maps, two new techniques are developed for analysing qualitative data based on student-constructed concept maps: (1) temporal clumping of concepts and (2) the use of adjacency matrices of an undirected graph representation of the concept map. Findings suggest that students may find it more difficult to make connections between concepts like eigenvalues and eigenvectors and concepts from other parts of the conceptual field such as basis and dimension. In fact, eigenvalues and eigenvectors seemed to be the most disconnected concepts within all of the students’ concept maps. In addition, the relationships between link types and certain clumps are suggested as well as directions for future study and curriculum design.