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The computer as a mediating influence in the development of pupils’ understanding of variable

  • Richard Noss
  • Celia Hoyles
Article

Abstract

Within a Logo environment, pupils routinely use the notion of variable. However, the process by which they come to develop understandings is more problematic. In this paper we describe a series of situations in which we investigate how the computer and the intervention of a researcher may facilitate the development of pupils’ conceptions of variable. We report case studies of two thirteen-year-old pupils Nicola and Noel — the observations have been woven into two ‘stories’ derived from data collected at different times and in two different settings: the mathematics classroom and the university computing laboratory. Our main conclusions concern the multiple relationships among the researcher, the computer and the pupil — specifically the ways in which the computer can (but does not always) act as a mediating influence in developing pupil understandings of variable.

Key words

Logo Algebraic variable Pupil conceptions Computer 

Influence médiatrice de l’ordinateur dans le développement de la notion de variable chez l’enfant

Résumé

Dans un environnement Logo, les élèves emploient couramment la notion de variable. Cependant le processus par lequel la compréhension de cette notion se développe soulève plus d’un problème. Dans cet article, nous décrivons une série de situations dans lesquelles nous avons pu examiner comment le recours à l’ordinateur et l’intervention d’un chercheur peuvent faciliter le développement de la notion de variable.

Nous présentons deux études de cas reconstituées à partir des donnés recueillies auprés de deux élèves de treize ans, observés à différents moments et dans deux sites distincts: la salle de cours de mathématiques et le laboratoire d’informatique de l’Université. Nos principales conclusions concernent les relations multiples s’établissant entre le chercheur, l’ordinateur et l’élève; en particulier le rôle de médiateur cognitif que peut jouer (mais pas toujours) l’ordinateur pendant l’acquisition de la notion de variable.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Noss
    • 1
  • Celia Hoyles
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Maths, Stats and Computing, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondon

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