
06622168
j
2016e.00537
Weinberg, Aaron
Dresen, Joshua
Slater, Thomas
Students' understanding of algebraic notation: a semiotic systems perspective.
J. Math. Behav. 43, 7088 (2016).
2016
Elsevier, New York, NY
EN
E40
H30
algebra
equivalence
variable
semiotics
semiotic systems
doi:10.1016/j.jmathb.2016.06.001
Summary: The ideas of equivalence and variable are two of the most fundamental concepts in algebra. Most studies of students' understanding of these concepts have posited a gap between the students' conceptions and the institutional meanings for the symbols. In contrast, this study develops a theoretical framework for describing the ways undergraduate students use personal meanings for symbols as they appropriate institutional meanings. To do this, we introduce the idea of semiotic systems as a framework for understanding the ways students use collections of signs to engage in mathematical activity and how the students use these signs in meaningful ways. The analysis of students' work during taskbased interviews suggests that this framework allows us to identify the ways in which seemingly idiosyncratic uses of the symbols are evidence of meaningmaking and, in many cases, how the symbol use enables the student to engage productively in the mathematical activity.