Diagnosing Misconceptions in First-Year Calculus


Learning tertiary mathematics is challenging and has been an obstacle for many students. Calculus students are unaware of their misconceptions. This makes understanding and progress difficult and prevents students from being successful in mathematics, especially in first-year calculus modules. Focusing on misconceptions in calculus is essential for enhancing student learning and is needed in developing conceptual understanding. Action research and reflective practice have both change and enhancement as aims. This paper reports on the first phase of the action research cycle – the diagnosing phase. Since the lecturer-as-researcher endeavors to be a reflective practitioner and given that reflective practice can lead to improved learning, the reflective practice method was used to diagnose misconceptions in first-year calculus and to develop an understanding of what students know about important concepts in first-year calculus. Two misconceptions were identified, namely limits of a function and the notation of inverse functions. Provided that the limit of a function is a fundamental part of learning calculus, and the inverse function is one of the concepts which is compulsory to be learned in calculus and appears to be a concept indispensable for some students in different study programs, these two misconceptions will be the focus of this paper. Intending to address the existence of misconceptions in calculus, the paper concludes with proposed strategies for the second action research cycle, the action-planning phase.

Author Information
Elsabe Weyer, North-West University, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: PCE2023
Stream: Teaching Experiences

This paper is part of the PCE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Weyer E. (2023) Diagnosing Misconceptions in First-Year Calculus ISSN: 2758-0962 The Paris Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2758-0962.2023.60
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2758-0962.2023.60

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon