Enhancing Middle School Students’ Representational Fluency

August 30, 2010

A newly published study examines middle algebra school students’ representational fluency, or their ability to reason with and between multiple representations, using tabular, graphical, verbal, and symbolic representations of linear and nonlinear relations. In this study students had 9 weeks of algebra instruction using either Connected Mathematics (CM), a widely adopted reform curriculum, or Bridging Instruction (BI). BI is a novel curriculum taught by the same teacher that drew on students’ mathematical preconceptions and their invented solution strategies. Both instructional approaches improved students’ abilities to solve problems using linear equations. But BI students showed larger improvements overall, with significant gains using equations and word expressions for linear and nonlinear functions. The study was conducted by Mitchell Nathan, Martha Alibali, and colleagues. See WCER Working Paper No. 2010-9.