The nature of student predictions and learning opportunities in middle school algebra
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- Kasmer, L.A. & Kim, OK. Educ Stud Math (2012) 79: 175. doi:10.1007/s10649-011-9336-z
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In this article, we describe how using prediction during instruction can create learning opportunities to enhance the understanding and doing of mathematics. In doing so, we characterize the nature of the predictions students made and the levels of sophistication in students’ reasoning within a middle school algebra context. In this study, when linear and exponential functions were taught, prediction questions were posed at the launch of the lessons to reflect the mathematical ideas of each lesson. Students responded in writing along with supportive reasoning individually and then discussed their predictions and rationale. A total of 395 prediction responses were coded using a dual system: sophistication of reasoning, and the mechanism students appeared to utilize to formulate their prediction response. The results indicate that using prediction provoked students to connect among mathematical ideas that they learned. It was apparent that students also visualized mathematical ideas in the problem or the possible results of the problem. These results suggest that using prediction in fact provides learning opportunities for students to engage in mathematical sense making and reasoning, which promotes students’ understanding of the mathematics that they learn.