A study of middle school and college students' misconceptions about solving multi-step linear equations.
Powell, Amber N.
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SubjectDifferential equations, Linear.; Algebras, Linear.; Problem solving -- Study and teaching.; Mathematics teachers -- Training of.; Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Middle school).; Mathematics -- Problems, exercises, etc.
This study examines the types of mistakes that students make solving multi-step linear equations. During this study, students completed a 15-problem test containing different types of multi-step linear equations appropriate for 8th graders according to the state and national mathematics standards. Students were not allowed to use a calculator. The instrument was generated by using past state tests and by polling professors of mathematics. The number of mistakes made for each mathematical property was recorded. The scores were compared to a survey that students answered reporting their confidence in solving these types of problems. The results of the study indicated that problems containing negative numbers and moving terms to the opposite side of the equal sign were incorrect most frequently among all student participants. Additional results revealed that eighth graders made more mistakes than college-level students, the types of mistakes made were different based on the grade level of the participants, males made fewer mistakes than females and there was a difference in the types of mistakes made based on gender.