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ERIC Number: EJ878861
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 51
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8251
Nonstandard Student Conceptions about Infinitesimals
Ely, Robert
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, v41 n2 p117-146 Mar 2010
This is a case study of an undergraduate calculus student's nonstandard conceptions of the real number line. Interviews with the student reveal robust conceptions of the real number line that include infinitesimal and infinite quantities and distances. Similarities between these conceptions and those of G. W. Leibniz are discussed and illuminated by the formalization of infinitesimals in A. Robinson's nonstandard analysis. These similarities suggest that these student conceptions are not mere misconceptions, but are nonstandard conceptions, pieces of knowledge that could be built into a system of real numbers proven to be as mathematically consistent and powerful as the standard system. This provides a new perspective on students' "struggles" with the real numbers, and adds to the discussion about the relationship between student conceptions and historical conceptions by focusing on mechanisms for maintaining cognitive and mathematical consistency. (Contains 2 figures and 2 footnotes.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail: orders@nctm.org; Web site: http://www.nctm.org/publications/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A