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ERIC Number: EJ1030689
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-0020-739X
The Emergence of Algebraic Structure: Students Come to Understand Units and Zero-Divisors
Cook, John Paul
International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, v45 n3 p349-359 2014
Little is known about how students learn the basic ideas of ring theory. While the literature addressing student learning of group theory is certainly relevant, the concepts of zero-divisor and, more generally, elements with no multiplicative inverse are among those for which group theory has no analogue. In order to better understand how students come to understand the corresponding ideas of units and zero-divisors, this paper presents results from a study that investigated how students can capitalize on their intuitive notions of solving equations to reinvent the definitions of ring, integral domain, and field. In particular, the emergence and progressive formalization of the concept of zero-divisor at various stages of the reinvention process are detailed and discussed. Findings include a conceptual framework characterizing the emergence of the concept of zero-divisor and unit. This framework, in addition to documenting the emergence of these concepts, suggests that the concept of zero-divisor arises in direct contrast to the concept of unit.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A