ERIC Number: ED306098
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: N/A
Translation of Algebraic Equations and Its Relation to Formal Operational Reasoning.
A large proportion of college students majoring in science are unable to translate even simple sentences into algebraic equations. Given the following sentence, "There are six times as many students (S) as professors (P) at this university," 37% of 150 freshmen engineering students in a study conducted in 1981 by Clement, Lockhead, and Monk wrote the following equation: 6S=P, referred to as the reversal error. It is plausible to suggest that in order to overcome the reversal error students need to operate in a hypothetico-deductive manner. The objective of this study was to investigate the relation between student ability to translate sentences into equations, equations into sentences, and student performance in the following variables: formal operational reasoning; proportional reasoning; and achievement in an introductory freshman level chemistry I course. Selected results show that: (1) as the student ability to translate sentences into equations and equations into sentences increases, their mean scores in chemistry I, formal operational and proportional reasoning increase; and (2) ability to translate an equation into a sentence does correlate with student scores in chemistry I while the reverse translation does not. This study reports support for the hypothesis that students who lack formal operational reasoning (hypothetico-deductive reasoning) may experience more problems in the translation of algebraic equations. (MVL)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers; Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (62nd, San Francisco, CA, March 30-April 1, 1989).