Student teachers’ knowledge of students’ difficulties with the concept of function
Keywords:the concept of function, teacher knowledge, student teacher, mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT), knowledge of content and students (KCS)
An important part of the mathematics syllabuses at the secondary school level in most countries is the concept of function. However, secondary school students often experience difficulties with this concept. These difficulties are well-known in the research literature. The study applies the mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) framework, including the category knowledge of content and students (KCS). Teachers’ ability to anticipate students’ difficulties is one aspect of KCS. The aim of this study is to investigate secondary mathematics student teachers’ KCS regarding the concept of function. Ten mathematics student teachers participating in a Supplementary Teacher Education Program answered a questionnaire about fictive secondary school students’ various difficulties with the concept of function. Follow-up interviews were conducted with four of the respondents. Compared to the findings of previous research on students’ difficulties with the concept of function, the respondents in the study sometimes provide reasonable suggestions about the sources of students’ difficulties. Some of the respondents demonstrate an aspect of KCS when they suggest that students can reason that a function must be defined by one algebraic expression only, and that students only know about continuous functions. However, no respondent suggests that one source of students’ difficulties with a constant function with an implicit domain is the missing domain. In addition, some respondents take for granted that students can interpret the algebraic representation of a piecewise-defined function and translate it into a graph.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Mikael Borke
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