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ERIC Number: EJ1122038
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1449-6313
Proportional Reasoning: An Essential Component of Scientific Understanding
Hilton, Annette; Hilton, Geoff
Teaching Science, v62 n4 p32-42 Dec 2016
In many scientific contexts, students need to be able to use mathematical knowledge in order to engage in scientific reasoning and problem-solving, and their understanding of scientific concepts relies heavily on their ability to understand and use mathematics in often new or unfamiliar contexts. Not only do science students need high levels of numeracy, they may be at risk of limited success in many areas of science if they do not (Lenton & Stevens, 2001). Proportional Reasoning, which is an essential element of numeracy, is critical for scientific thinking. The mathematics education literature abounds with research about the difficulties with proportionality experienced by students of all ages and yet, despite their central importance to scientific understanding, research on the teaching and learning of proportional reasoning concepts in science contexts is somewhat limited (NRC, 2012; Taylor & Jones, 2013) and generally restricted to understanding concepts such as speed, power, movement, and pressure in physics (Akatugba & Wallace, 2009). This paper addresses the lack of an explicit focus on proportionality in the science curriculum. It describes a curriculum audit that was conducted to identify science concepts that rely on elements of proportional reasoning for understanding in order to devise a science scope and sequence document to support teachers. Included are illustrative examples from this document. While this audit focused on the science curriculum to Year 10, it also has implications for senior secondary subjects.
Australian Science Teachers Association. P.O. Box 334, Deakin West, ACT 2600, Australia. Tel: +61-02-6282-9377; Fax: +61-02-6282-9477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Information Analyses
Education Level: Grade 10; Secondary Education; High Schools; Kindergarten; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A