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Abstract Title: How many calculus concepts are grounded in meanings in math classes that do not align well with how those same concepts are used in science
Abstract: Beginning in the mid 1900's, the academic departments of mathematics and natural sciences have been drifting apart, leading to the following problem. Because many mathematical concepts can have multiple meanings associated with them, it is possible for certain meanings to be developed and focused on within mathematics classes in a way that does not align well with how those same concepts are used or reasoned about in science. This appears to be true for several calculus concepts, including the derivative, the integral, and Taylor series, among others. I use pieces of frameworks on "centers of focus," "ways of thinking," and "concept projection" to briefly illustrate (a) the conceptual grounding given to these concepts within typical calculus classes, (b) the resulting types of meanings many students may develop for these concepts in their calculus classes, and (c) why that can lead to difficulty for students in using these concepts in science coursework. The hope is that by knowing what kinds of meanings their students have developed within their calculus classes, science instructors would be in a better position to work with students' current understanding -- and to develop that understanding -- in ways that can better help those student in using calculus concepts in science classes.
Abstract Type: Symposium Talk
Parallel Session: Representing student reasoning about math in physics
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster I
Room: Cascade D

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Steven Jones
Brigham Young University