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AY 2017 – 2018.

by

Michael M. Paguio

Educational Research (EDUC- 115)

Instructress

Chapter 1

Introduction

It has been said that Mathematics, in general, requires deductive reasoning; and passive

learners often struggle with this kind of active problem solving. Students with memory and

attention problems may also struggle since both skills are necessary for mathematical aptitude.

memorize in the earliest grades of elementary school. Recalling these facts efficiently is critical

because it allows a student to approach more advanced mathematical thinking without being

One fairly common difficulty experienced by people with math problems is the inability

to easily connect the abstract or conceptual aspects of math with reality. Understanding what

symbols represent in the physical world is important to how well and how easily a child will

remember a concept. Holding and inspecting an equilateral triangle, for example, will be much

more meaningful to a child than simply being told that the triangle is equilateral because it has

three equal sides. And yet children with this problem find connections such as these painstaking

at best.

Some students have difficulty making meaningful connections within and across

mathematical experiences. For instance, a student may not readily comprehend the relation

between numbers and the quantities they represent. If this kind of connection is not made, math

skills may be not anchored in any meaningful or relevant manner. This makes them harder to

For some students, a math disability is driven by problems with language. These

children may also experience difficulty with reading, writing, and speaking. In math, however,

their language problem is confounded by the inherently difficult terminology, some of which

they hear nowhere outside of the math classroom. These students have difficulty understanding

written or verbal directions or explanations, and find word problems especially difficult to

translate.

A far less common problem -- and probably the most severe -- is the inability to

effectively visualize math concepts. Students who have this problem may be unable to judge

the relative size among three dissimilar objects. This disorder has obvious disadvantages, as it

requires that a student rely almost entirely on rote memorization of verbal or written

descriptions of math concepts that most people take for granted. Some mathematical problems

also require students to combine higher-order cognition with perceptual skills, for instance, to

determine what shape will result when a complex 3-D figure is rotated.

Moving down to its essential branch – calculus – some define it as “the branch of

mathematics that deals with limits and the differentiation and integration of functions of one or

more variables”. It is true, but seem not of that great help for beginners. It is like “Calculus

does to algebra what algebra did to arithmetic”. Arithmetic, in its most general sense, is about

division. Algebra, in a different manner, finds patterns between numbers. Then, Calculus finds

patterns between equations. Indeed, Algebra and Calculus are said to be a problem-solving duo

identifying some of the problems for students learning first year calculus and offered

instructional strategies to address these difficulties. Dias found the weak algebra skills of

calculus students to be one of the biggest problems hindering the teaching and learning of

calculus. Instructors were frustrated when students were not familiar with simple concepts such

as function notation. Dias stated, “How does one manage to teach 200 freshmen first-year

calculus, if they have difficulty with basic algebra and graphs?” (2000, p. 193). Some of the

examples Dias identified were problems with conceptual understandings of graphs, domains,

range and continuity. From Dias, one can conclude that students who lack algebraic skills will

Calculus is one field of study in mathematics that have started to be introduced in high

school. The main topics in high school calculus are basically include two things: differential

and integral calculus. The emergence of these two concepts is based on the way we used to

resolve problems that occur in everyday life. According to the Indonesian curriculum,

differential calculus topics were introduced in the second semester of grade XI, while integral

calculus topics were introduced in grade XII. The prerequisite for learning calculus includes a

good understanding on real numbers and functions. Students will have difficulties in

(Diekei and Isleten, 2004). Students’ understanding of derivative required the mastery of

previous important concepts which are interlinked, such as functions, limit, slope, continuity,

and rate of change (Bingolbali, 2008). Having lack of understanding of those concepts will

affect students who have difficulties in understanding the derivative concepts (Kultur, 2011)).

In fact, (Balci, 2008) figured out that difficulties and misconception students had in studying

calculus were more likely in derivative, limit, and relationship with rate of change.

One of the reasons for the difficulties encountered in teaching and learning calculus in

secondary schools is that it is generally perceived to be abstract and involving complex ideas

(Zachiarides, Pamfilos, Christou, Maleev, & Jones, 2007); moreover, leaners do not

comprehend the key concepts of calculus (Artique, Batanero, & Kent, 2007)

As much as the student-researcher would want to include recent studies about the

difficulties faced by undergraduate students in college in the local setting –that is in the

Philippines – there has not been much research about it. With that said, it is hoped that this

study will serve as a pioneer whose aim is to delve into the problems encountered by junior

The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the difficulties encountered by junior

Mathematics Majors will be picked through purposive sampling for the student-researcher

think they will be able to give him enough information and data to address the difficulties they

The result of this study will hopefully give an insight to the instructors as to how

calculus should be taught; as to what approaches should be capitalized on, that will facilitate

the learning for students of calculus which is one of the ultimate goals of education after all.

For the teacher in the classroom, it can provide opportunities for reflection and improvement,

a testing ground for enhancing the teachers' practice. Implemented in this way, this study is

Statement of the Problem

Last Semester (A.Y. 2017-2018) Junior students majoring in Mathematics have faced

various difficulties in dealing with their differential calculus course. Despite the effort that the

professors in the academe are making to somehow alleviate the quality of education, it seems

that something still needs to be improved. The fact that students are having hard time to grasp

the concept of the lesson being tackled can be a great manifestation of the assumption stated

above. The major problem is caused primarily by students' lack of algebraic skills. If the

students do not have a good working knowledge of algebra, they will not be able to manipulate

and ultimately understand the lesson of calculus. A student with good algebra skills has good

mathematical understanding and will have a greater potential to learn calculus. Employment of

graphic calculator as one of the instructional materials to be utilized inside the classroom during

the course of teaching and learning differential calculus is highly encouraged since almost

calculus problem require the learner to sketch the graph of the functions or relations.

Significance of the Study

The fruit of this study will hopefully accrue to not-so- many literatures about

differential calculus. This study will specifically benefit those students whose curricula entail

use calculus themes. It is said that superficial knowledge of calculus concept will affect the

understanding of a vast number of mathematics and science disciplines. With those numerous

applications of calculus in real-world it is apparently logical for it to demand for more effectual

and operative teaching modalities. By so doing, academic institutions that take into account the

upshot of this study and the suggested approaches as to how teaching and learning of calculus

should be undertaken will be able to train the students better. In the same manner, the findings

will provide administrative council several reasons for particular actions: feedbacking,

evaluating, and monitoring scheme of the status quo of the mathematics courses that will

eventually serve as the basis for possible college program and project development.

Consequently, through this investigation future researchers will provide them related and

relevant information that they can employ in their conduct of their own study; the findings will

push them as well to pull off researches inclined to their own field of specialization.

Scope and Delimitations of the Study

The findings of this study are limited to its particular setting. The qualitative study will

only explore the difficulties encountered by Junior Mathematics major at Bataan Peninsula

State University - AY 2017-2018. The student-researcher will utilize purposive samplig, that

is, only those students who have significant contribution and can provide important information

and data in the study will be included as respondents. As the student-researcher try to look for

recent literatures and studies about the subject under investigation, it seems that there has not

been much research about it. The findings of this study will serve as source of new information

as availability of recent literatures and studies are scarse and limited; thus, they can be used by

other researchers who will have the same methodology and objectivity. It is indispensable when

interpreting the data to consider that teachers have different teaching methods and styles to

which every student respsonds differently. Also, being the researcher and student may have

Notes in Chapter 1

Conference Proceedings, Proceedings on the International Conference on Adults Learning

Mathematics (ALM - 7), July 6-8, 2000, Medford, MA.

Diekei, R., and Isleten, T., (2004). Investigation of relation and function of some

variables on the challenges J. Kastamonu Education 11 (2) 105-116.

Bingolbali, E. (2008). Suggestions for learning difficulties and conceptual

understanding of the concepts of derivative J Mathematical Misconception and Solution 223 -

253.

Kultur, M. (2011). Identifying the learning difficulties of freshmen in mathematics

teachers training department in Function, Graph, and Derivative J Humanities and Social

Science 1 (7)119 - 124.

Balci, (2008). General Mathematics (Ankara: Balci Press)

Zachariades, T., Pamfilos, P., Christou, C., Maleev, R., & Jones, K. (2007). Teaching

introductory calculus: Approaching key ideas with dynamic software. Paper presented at

CETL-MSOR Conference on Excellence in the Teaching and Learning, Stats & OP, University

of Birmingham, 10-11 September 2007.

Artigue, M., Batanero, C., & Kent, P. (2007). Thinking and learning at post-secondary

level. In F. Lester (Ed.), Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning

(pp. 1011-1049). Information Age Publishing.

Chapter II

A. Learning of Calculus

The learning of mathematics is a constructive process. Dewey and Piaget have researched

on this idea. Dewey pointed out that new objects and events should be related intellectually to

related knowledge which the learner already has. Piaget described two aspects of thinking that

are different but complementary which are figurative aspect and operative aspect. The

operative thought allows the learner to see what next in relation to what has taken place and

this involves intellectual aspect. The figurative aspect involves imitations, perceptions and

mental imagery. Piaget made distinction to these two aspects in order to contrast the sensory

motor stage and the concrete operational stage. Thompson (1985) found it useful to generalize

this to any level of thought as follows: when a person `s actions of thought remain

predominantly within schemata associated with a given level then the action is figurative in

relation to that level. When actions of thought move to the level of controlling the schemata

then its operative. The thinking of college maths students in an advanced calculus is operative.

i.e. learners are given definitions and then asked to apply them.

which students may construct mathematical knowledge and that it is a sequence of activities,

The cognitivists seem to point out that the learning of mathematical concepts is from the

known to the unknown and when the application of a theorem or definition is needed then we

are being required to recall a known result and then apply it to a new situation. The basic themes

in a calculus course are functions and limits of functions. Most key concepts may require the

The studies conducted by Dewey, Piaget, and Thompson provided a framework for this

study in the sense that, in general, it is undeniably true that the dependence of other

mathematical disciplines on Calculus shows that students can construct knowledge from other

mathematical disciplines using it. At this point we would like to indicate that a good knowledge

Calculus concepts. It is therefore the role of the mathematics educator to provide links between

Heid (1988) investigated that the college students’ difficulties on understanding the

subject of derivation, the mistakes made by students and effects of computer usage on this

subject. In addition to this subject, to simplify understanding the derivation conceptually, Heid

Raman (1998) looked at the concept of continuity and the differences in teaching methodology

between textbooks for high school pre-calculus and university calculus. Her analysis brings to light

some of the reasons students have difficulties with the transition from high school mathematics to

university mathematics. Raman found the high school textbook to be too informal, and too often gave

mathematics explanations too specific to answer a certain type of task. One of the concepts studied by

Raman (1998) was the difference in the ways definitions were presented. High school textbooks often

gave an incomplete definition of a concept in order to prepare students to answer a single type of task.

This teaching to a type of task limits the scope and breadth in which students connect and learn to

understand definitions. In calculus textbooks, the definitions in a diverse number of situations. Raman

stated, “In Pre-calculus the graph of the function was used to determine the continuity of the function.

In calculus… the graph is related to, but not an essential part of the reasoning” (p. 12). Raman revealed

the gap between the methodology of high school mathematics and university calculus. High schools

should look more to building mathematic understanding for future use. One of Raman’s concluding

comments was, “we should think about how to build on students’ understanding to help them acquire

While many researchers refer to lack of algebraic competence in general, only a few

provide specific illustrations. For example, Kajander and Lovric (2005) searched for some of

the specific mistakes made by students in calculus. One of their findings was the common

surveys, which measured each student’s ability with specific prerequisite skills. In analyzing

responses from student surveys on prerequisite skills, Kajander and Lovric found that many

Barry and Davis (2006) from the University of New South Wales studied ways to

identify students who lacked the appropriate prerequisite skills (algebra). Once identified, these

students were given supplemental instruction on prerequisite algebra to alleviate the some of

the associated problems with learning calculus. Their study identified the frustration calculus

instructors have with weak algebra skills, “… endless hours have been spent discussing the

perceived decline in our student’s basic skills. In particular, the mathematical preparedness of

Axtell (2006) agrees, concluding that the calculus curriculum needs to be improved by

dynamic process. Therefore, teachers teach with the aim of delivering contextual learning such

that students understand the concepts and principles on what they have been taught and why

Coe (2007) and Ubuz (2007) researched learners’ fundamental ideas of rate of change

in learning calculus and concluded that learners lack the understanding of fundamental ideas

of change and rate, which in calculus provide an important underpinning of the derivatives.

out mainly focusing on the relationship between the chain rule and function composition where

he claimed that chain rule is one of the hardest ideas to convey to students in calculus due to

the difficultness in expressing the symbols and in representing the ideas into words. Therefore,

students have difficulties in remembering it and hence, they are unable to apply (Gordon, 2005

as cited in Horvath, 2008). His finding showed that even though students have written down

the correct answer, they may not be thinking of the right answers and there may still be subtle

According to Chan (2009), calculus is one of the most difficult topics in Paper 3 (Pure)

Mathematics for teachers to teach and for students to learn. This had been researched by Tall

(1992) in which he claimed that whichever way calculus is approached; there were difficult

concepts which seemed to cause problems no matter how they are taught. Chan (2009) further

elaborated that the concepts were causing cognitive difficulties not only to students but also

teachers.

deficiency in the teacher’s content knowledge of the subject (Lam, 2009). Lam studied the

dealing with images and definitions of various calculus concepts. The results revealed a lack

of knowledge of various differential calculus concepts; furthermore, the teachers tended to

Herbert (2011) researched first-year tertiary students taking introductory calculus, rate

and hence the derivative of functions. She used two-sample t-tests to measure the examination

results of the introductory calculus limits. The results revealed that the first-year students

that students lacked knowledge of rate in calculus as compared with area and integration.

Herbert suggests that when teaching introductory calculus, the teacher should start with area

and integration, rather than rate and derivative, which is inconsistent with secondary school

calculus. The integration of calculus is not part of many secondary school mathematics syllabi.

It is important to take note that students’ difficulties in the learning of derivation are

undergraduate student calculus by administering two exercises on Calculus 1 and 2. The results

revealed that most of the students’ errors were caused by knowledge gaps in basic algebra.

Furthermore, Muzangwa and Chifamba showed that errors and misconceptions possessed by

students were generated by lack of advanced mathematics thinking, which could have been

caused by lecturers during teaching and learning of calculus. Muzangwa and Chifamba (2012)

argue that the lack of conceptual understanding in calculus limits its usefulness in related

science applications. Axtell (2006) agrees, concluding that the calculus curriculum needs to be

a consecutive discipline abided to basic principles and concepts. When the basic concepts of

analysis of derivation have not been understood by students thoroughly, the students will be

ignorant of applications, formulas and their meanings. Thus, learning abided memorization of

rule and definition gets difficult and doesn’t contain real life applications (Orhun, 2012).

The related literatures and studies presented here were selected on the basis of their

significance in promoting direction for this present study in the sense that they also try to

address the different problems encountered by the students studying diffirential calculus. The

majority of the research shows that the better a student leaves high school knowing their

algebra, the better he/she will perform in university calculus. The investigators explain this

need for strong algebraic skills as follows; algebra is the working environment in which

calculus is taught. In relation to the main study, students in Bataan Peninsula State University

C. Teaching of Calculus

The teaching strategies in calculus have become merely list of procedures to follow

and results only in practicing usual routine in algebraic manipulations. Weaker students get

frustrated easily over the manipulations required in calculus (Tucker & Leitzel 1995)

teaching. Some of the approaches used in classroom teaching enable learners to be proficient

Findell (2001), who identified five strands of mathematical proficiencies, which are not

independent but represent different aspects of a whole. The five strands are: conceptual

disposition. They provide a framework for discussing the knowledge, skills, abilities, and

Kilpatrick et al. (2001) mathematical proficiency, for the purpose of this study conceptual

understanding and procedural fluency are used to underpin the study. Conceptual

understanding is when a learner is able to comprehend mathematical concepts, operations,

procedures: knowledge of how and when to use them appropriately, and the skills in

performing them flexibly, accurately, and efficiently (Kilpatrick et al., 2001). The two

strands should work hand in hand. Grade 12 learners should be in a position to know the

procedures of finding the derivative of functions using first principles and rules of

differentiation. However, the challenge may not be the procedures used by learners. These

types of task require higher-order thinking skills; they need conceptual knowledge and

Alkhateeb and Wampler (2002) found that students who used the calculator performed

better in achievement tests compared to those who did not in the understanding of derivatives.

Moreover, Gordon (2004) suggested that students choose the right tools such as the

graphing calculators to assist in learning calculus and apply the balanced approach in solving

problems.

Graphics calculators are hand‐held, battery powered devices equipped with functions

to “plot graphs, give numerical solutions to equations, and perform statistical calculations,

operation on matrices and to perform more advanced mathematical functions such as algebra,

geometry and advanced statistics” (Kor & Lim, 2004, p. 69). More specifically, the use of

thinking ability’ and ‘understanding of connections among graphical, tabular, numerical and

Also, Jones(2005) reported that the graphing technology provides students with

particular, various problem solving methods enable students to visualize the problems and

support them to obtain the solutions. Indeed, this encourages students’ confidence in exploring

more challenging calculus problems and applying various problem solving techniques.

According to Axtell (2006), teaching calculus using the traditional approach fails to

help students understand the basic concepts of calculus. Axtell (2006) concluded that the

calculus in particular, balanced with the use of graphical, numerical, algebraic and verbal

In teaching calculus, teachers focus more on the procedures rather than understanding

of the underlying concepts (Zachariades et al., 2007). Zachariades et al. (2007) reported that

graphing calculator is a useful tool in teaching calculus as it integrates the graphical, numerical

and symbolic functions. In addition, the findings of Tiwari (2007) indicated a better

connection between algebraic representation and graphical representation when using the

calculator. Tiwari (2007) also found that students using graphing calculator were more likely

to achieve conceptual understanding and enhance their problem solving abilities in learning

calculus. This is due to the positive effect of the numerical and graphical functions in the

& Heckler, 2009) so new learning technologies such as the graphing calculator have gained

acceptance in the mathematics education field. Technology can help develop understanding of

abstract mathematical concepts through visualization and graphic representation. This will

a great pedagogical tool as it offers multi‐representational approaches in teaching and learning

of mathematics.

The studies and literatures included here are especially relevant to the present study

undertaken by the student-researcher since they suggest ways on what teaching strategies and

teaching modalities should be utilized to help pin point and then improve the learning difficulty

Notes in Chapter II

considerations in developing mathematics curricula; in E.Silver (Ed.),Teaching and Learning

Mathematical Problem Solving,Erlbaum, Hillside NJ,189-236.

Kyvatinsky T. & Even R (2002). Framework for teacher knowledge and understanding

about probability. CUST S6.

Heid, K.M. (1988), Resequencing Skills and Concepts in Applied Calculus Using the

Computer as a Tool, J.for Research in Mathematics Education, 19 (1) 3-25.

Mathematics Textbooks. Conference Proceedings from the Annual Meeting of the American

Education Research Associates. San Diego, CA.

Kajander, A. & Lovric, M., (2005). Transition from secondary to tertiary mathematic:

McMaster University experience. International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science

and Technology, 36(2-3), 149-160.

Barry, S. & Davis, S. (2006). Essential mathematical skills for undergraduate students

(in applied mathematics, science and engineering). International Journal of Mathematics

Education in Science and Technology, 30(4), 499-512.

Mathematics and Computer Education, 40(2), 130-137.

for learning Mathematics (p. 10). Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill Education.

Coe, E. (2007). Modeling teachers' ways of thinking about rate of change. Unpublished

PhD thesis, Arizona State University, Arizona. (Accessed 29 January, 2010 from http://pat-

thompson.net/PDFversions/Theses/2007Ted.pdf.

Ubuz, B. (2007). Interpreting a graph and constructing its derivative graph: Stability

and change in students' conceptions. International Journal of Mathematical Education in

Science and Technology, 38(5), 609-637.

The relationship between the chain rule and functional composition. FAST (Future Academic

Scholars in Teaching) Fellowship Program.

Chan, S. (2009). The Effectiveness between Streaming and Non-Streaming 'A' - Level

Pure Mathematics (Paper 3) of Sixth Form Colleges in Brunei Darussalam. Unpublished

master‟s dissertation. Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam. Charles, M. P.

and related concepts. The Mathematics Educator, 12(1) 69-86.

Mathematics: Traditions and [New] Practice.d@AAMT & MERGA, 358-365.

Tall, D. (2011). Looking for the Bigger Picture. For the Learning of Mathematics. 31

(2): 17-18.

Muzangwa, J., & Chifamba, P. (2012). Analysis of errors and misconceptions in the

learning of calculus by undergraduate students. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 5(2), 1-10.

Algılamada Karşılaşılan

community. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America.

Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J., & Findell, B. (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn

mathematics. Washington: National Academy Press.

the derivative.Perceptual & Motor Skills, 94(1), 165.

of Computer Algebra in Mathematics Education, 11(2), 37-44.

Kor, L. K., & Lim, C. S. (2004). Learning Statistics with Graphics Calculator: Students’

viewpoints. Integrating Technology in the Mathematical Sciences.USM Proceeding Series (pp.

69-78). Pulau Pinang, Malaysia: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Calculator? Proceedings of the 2nd National Conference on Graphing Calculators (pp. 45-54).

Pulau Pinang, Malaysia:Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia

Zachariades, T., Pamfilos, P., Christou, C., Maleev, R., & Jones, K. (2007). Teaching

introductory calculus: Approaching key ideas with dynamic software. Paper presented at

CETL-MSOR Conference on Excellence in the Teaching and Learning, Stats & OP, University

of Birmingham, 10-11 September 2007.

knowledge: The portability of generic instantiations. Child Development Perspectives, 3, 151–

155.

Definition of terms:

Derivative - the result of mathematical differentiation; the instantaneous change of one

quantity relative to another; df(x)/dx

Discipline - a branch of knowledge

Figurative - something that is not to be interpreted literally, but that instead uses a symbol or

a likeness.

Operative - something that has the most significance or the greatest importance

Theme - underlying topic of a discussion or a recurring idea