Factors Impacting Students’ Ability to use Linear Scales

By Michael Richard Arthur Drake.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

To be successful with measurement and graphing, students need some understanding of linear scale. However, the skills that students need to work with linear scales are not often articulated, in spite of scales being commonly utilised in everyday life and in a wide range of subjects including mathematics, the physical and social sciences, and branches of technology. This paper reports a New Zealand study involving 184 Year 7 and 8 students (ages 11 to 13). Semi-structured interviews were used to explore how 45 students from two schools went about answering a range of questions relating to simple contextual scales and number lines. Content analysis was then used to analyse the responses. A written test was given to a further 139 students from two other schools. The paper argues that using linear scale was not straightforward for these students. They needed to be able to recognise a scale, know the conventions used on it, understand the role played by the marks and the spaces, have a range of scale-based partitioning strategies, and be able to create equal partitions. Their understanding of number then needed to be applied to these bodies of knowledge in a coordinated manner.

Keywords: Mathematics Education, Student Cognition, Linear Scale

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp.587-604. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.356MB).

Dr. Michael Richard Arthur Drake

Senior Adviser, School of Education Policy and Implementation, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Michael Drake is currently a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand where he lectures in mathematics education. He comes to this position following 20 years of classroom teaching in secondary schools and 8 years as the region's mathematics adviser for secodary schools. His research interests include mathematics teaching and learning, effective professional development, and change management.


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