Prerequisite knowledge for calculus

This post describes foundational reasoning abilities and mathematical knowledge students need to develop before beginning a course in calculus. 1. Covariational reasoning This type of reasoning involves recognition of two quantities that are changing together. A student who considers how two quantities in a dynamic situation change together is said to be engaging in covariational…

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Three ways to teach math algorithms or procedures

It is a bunch of procedures. That’s how people perceive algorithms are. And they are right. Algorithm has been defined as 1) “step-by-step procedures that are carried out routinely”; 2) “a precisely-defined sequence of rules telling how to produce specified output information from given input information in a finite number of steps”. It is no…

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Application of the Discriminant

The discriminant of a quadratic equation, ax2 + bx + c = 0 is D = b2 – 4ac. If D>0, the quadratic equation has two distinct roots; if D<0, then the equation has no real roots; and, if D=0, the we have two equal roots. Let’s apply it in the following problem. What is…

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Types of Problem Solving Tasks

The phrase ‘problem solving’ has different meanings in mathematics education. Even its role in mathematics teaching and learning is not clear cut. Some view problem solving as an end in itself. Others see it as starting point for learning. Nevertheless, here are some of the types of problem solving tasks we would see in textbooks…

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When is it algebra and when is it arithmetic?

In the post Algebra vs Arithmetic, I distinguished between arithmetic and algebra by arguing that it has nothing to do with the use of letters. That algebra is about letters and arithmetic is about numbers is an oversimplified view of algebra and can create misconceptions. Here are more ways of characterizing algebra. The following excerpts…

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