A mathematical error which involves the reversal of natural referents for symbols is displayed to a substantial degree by high school teachers and university staff among others. It has been shown, moreover, that the phenomenon is difficult to correct by teaching methods. In the present study, a sample of final-year pre-service Education students destined for secondary-school teaching was asked to write a short verbal statement giving the same information as a simple algebraic equation and to construct an equation corresponding to a simple statement printed in plain language. A substantial proportion of students displayed reversal in both equation-interpretation and equation-formation modes. Students specialising in some academic fields appeared to be more prone to the error than those with other specialisations.
Exhibition of the mathematical 'reversal error' by final-year secondary-teacher trainees.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 11(1).