Analysis of the use of inferential reasoning by eighth, tenth and twelfth grade students
Friel, Susan N.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how advanced mathematics students in the eighth, tenth and twelfth grades used inferential reasoning in the solution of problems that required knowledge of elementary number theory. Inferences were classified based on the level of ambiguity involved, simple or complex; the number of pieces of information used, single-item or combined-item; the type of inference, simple single-item, simple combined-item, complex single-item or complex combined-item; and the purpose of the inference (seventeen inference codes were identified). The use of inferences classified by type was of primary interest. Also investigated were the procedures subjects employed to obtain, maintain and control information. Each of the 18 subjects, 6 from each grade, solved ten different problems in two to three sessions. Each problem involved the identification of a "mystery" whole number in the range of 1 to 1000 on the basis of clues that were provided. As the subjects interacted with the computer program that presented the problems, they were asked to "think aloud." Using transcribed, typewritten protocols and all paper-pencil notations recorded by subjects, protocols were coded employing a coding scheme developed by the investigator [TRUNCATED]
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