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An Investigation of Student Learning in Beginning Algebra Using Classroom Teaching Experiment Methodology and Design Research
AuthorMoss, Diana L.
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Students in grades 6-8 often struggle with learning expressions, equations, and functions (NCTM, 2011). This study investigated what sense sixth-grade students make when solving algebra tasks presented in a whole class teaching experiment (Lamberg & Middleton, 2009; Middleton, Gorard, Taylor, & Bannan-Ritland, 2008; Steffe & Thompson, 2000) using design research (Cobb, 2000; Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003; Cobb & Yackel, 1996; Gravemeijer, 1994). The teaching episodes were video recorded and all student work was documented and analyzed. The teaching experiment was an iterative process conducted in three phases. Data collection and analysis was a parallel process with prospective analysis occurring throughout the teaching experiment and retrospective analysis occurring after the teaching experiment. This research developed theories about the students' learning process in algebra, as well as techniques designed to support their learning. The instructional unit that was used in this study was developed with the goal of promoting student learning of the algebra tasks and was modified to further student understanding of the tasks. The realized learning trajectory for extending arithmetic to algebraic expressions, solving one-variable equations, and representing functions was also documented.