Mathematics researchers generally agree that algebra is a tool for problem solving, a method of expressing relationship, analyzing and representing patterns, and exploring mathematical properties in a variety of problem situations. Thus, several mathematics researchers and educators have focused on investigating the introduction and the development of algebraic solving abilities. However research works on assessing students' algebraic solving ability is sparse in literature. The purpose of this study was to use the SOLO model as a theoretical framework for assessing Form Four students' algebraic solving abilities in using linear equation. The content domains incorporated in this framework were linear pattern (pictorial), direct variations, concepts of function and arithmetic sequence. This study was divided into two phases. In the first phase, students were given a pencil-and-paper test. The test comprised of eight superitems of four items each. Results were analyzed using a Partial Credit model. In the second phase, clinical interviews were conducted to seek the clarification of the students' algebraic solving processes. Results of the study indicated that 62% of the students have less than 50% probability of success at relational level. The majority of the students in this study could be classified into unistructural and multistructural. Generally, most of the students encountered difficulties in generalizing their arithmetic thinking through the use of algebraic symbols. The qualitative data analysis found that the high ability students seemed to be more able to seek the recurring linear pattern and identify the linear relationship between variables. They were able to coordinate all the information given in the question to form the algebraic expression and linear equations. Whereas, the low ability students showed an ability more on drawing and counting method. They lacked understanding of algebraic concepts to express the relationship between the variables. The results of this study provided evidence on the significance of SOLO model in assessing algebraic solving ability in the upper secondary school level.
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Article Type: Research Article
INT ELECT J MATH ED, 2006, Volume 1, Issue 1, 55-76
Publication date: 10 Oct 2006
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