The role of fluency in a mathematics item with an embedded graphic: Interpreting a pie chart.

Diezmann, Carmel M. (2009) The role of fluency in a mathematics item with an embedded graphic: Interpreting a pie chart. ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 41(5), pp. 651-662.

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The purpose of this study was to identify the pedagogical knowledge relevant to the successful completion of a pie chart item. This purpose was achieved through the identification of the essential fluencies that 12–13-year-olds required for the successful solution of a pie chart item. Fluency relates to ease of solution and is particularly important in mathematics because it impacts on performance. Although the majority of students were successful on this multiple choice item, there was considerable divergence in the strategies they employed. Approximately two-thirds of the students employed efficient multiplicative strategies, which recognised and capitalised on the pie chart as a proportional representation. In contrast, the remaining one-third of students used a less efficient additive strategy that failed to capitalise on the representation of the pie chart. The results of our investigation of students’ performance on the pie chart item during individual interviews revealed that five distinct fluencies were involved in the solution process: conceptual (understanding the question), linguistic (keywords), retrieval (strategy selection), perceptual (orientation of a segment of the pie chart) and graphical (recognising the pie chart as a proportional representation). In addition, some students exhibited mild disfluencies corresponding to the five fluencies identified above. Three major outcomes emerged from the study. First, a model of knowledge of content and students for pie charts was developed. This model can be used to inform instruction about the pie chart and guide strategic support for students. Second, perceptual and graphical fluency were identified as two aspects of the curriculum, which should receive a greater emphasis in the primary years, due to their importance in interpreting pie charts. Finally, a working definition of fluency in mathematics was derived from students’ responses to the pie chart item.

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ID Code: 29007
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Fluency, Problem Solving, Information Graphics, Pie Chart, Learning, Teaching
DOI: 10.1007/s11858-009-0212-6
ISSN: 1863-9704
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 01 Dec 2009 07:17
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:58

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