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Analyzing student understanding of linear function concepts after completing basic algebra coursework

McCaskey, Morgan
The purpose of this project is to investigate student understanding of the concept of linear functions after completing basic algebra coursework. Students that were asked to participate have taken basic algebra coursework, defined as either College Algebra or Mathematical Functions and Their Uses. A survey was distributed to students in a SMED 3153: Teaching Mathematics at the Primary Level course. The survey included a questionnaire on their background experiences in mathematics courses followed by questions over the concept of linear functions in different representations: tabular, contextual, and graphical. Specifically, the goal was to analyze the assessments to learn how participants' prior background and experiences affect their understanding of linear functions. There were 14 total participants. Out of the 14 participants, there were seven students who completed both College Algebra and Mathematical Functions and Their Uses, four students who completed College Algebra, and three students who completed Mathematical Functions and Their Uses. The results indicated that there is little distinction between participants' prior background experiences and their understanding of linear functions in different representations. This is due to the responses from participants being relatively consistent among the subgroups, whether the results indicated a deep understanding or a weak understanding of the concept for a subgroup.