Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Christine Ormond

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Tony Fetherston

Abstract

The adoption by all states and territories of the national curriculum by 2013 saw students in schools across the country taught introductory algebraic concepts from Year Five. In the twenty first century the need to be algebraically competent has become a necessity much as computation was in the previous centuries.

The Researcher has found from experience that students who have struggled with number and number operations will then most probably make poor progress in their study of algebra. The transition from number to algebra requires a robust understanding of number and number operations

This study investigated the balance of instructional strategies employed by teachers to support students transition from number to algebra. This research examined how teachers’ beliefs underpinned the way that they approached the teaching of algebra in Years Seven and Eight in Western Australian schools.

This was a mixed methods study. The quantitative data from two questionnaires were used to analyse the teachers professed beliefs and also to contribute to the findings from the qualitative data to form the case study. The qualitative data was gathered from interviews, a focus group meeting, personal reflections by the teachers and video of four lessons taken of each teacher’s practice. The greatest variation in content planning and teaching evident in the teachers’ work was in the transitional material, namely moving students from working with number to algebraic variables.

This research makes a contribution to our (and teachers’) knowledge about teaching algebra and it provides insights into understanding good practice in the teaching of beginning algebra.

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