ERIC Number: ED341736
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
Translation between Symbolic Representations: Relationship between Instruction and Performance.
Webb, Noreen M.; And Others
Students' performances on mathematical problems varying in symbolic form and the kinds of symbolic representations and translation used in instruction were explored. The sample consisted of 29 students enrolled in Algebra II in a summer program for minority students. All students were Black or Hispanic American and most were about to enter grade 11. For two topic areas--solving simultaneous equations in two unknowns and distance-rate-time relationships--sets of problems were developed that varied the symbolic form of the problem as given and of the response required. Materials that teachers used, student notes, and interviews with the teacher determined the symbolic forms used in instruction and the kinds of translation explicitly discussed. Results suggest that presenting students with only conventional symbolic representations of problems is likely to give a limited picture of their mathematical problem-solving abilities. It is possible to understand students' difficulties in translating among symbolic representations by systematically varying the symbolic form of the problem and response. Data suggest that the symbolic form of the response required plays a critical role in determining performance. Using alternative symbolic forms may be a good way to measure students' conceptual understanding of mathematics. The kinds of translation covered in instruction did not seem to play a major role in this study. Two tables present study data, and a 20-item list of references is included. (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.; National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.