Different views – some Swedish mathematics students’ concept images of the function concept
Olov Viirman, Iiris Attorps and Timo Tossavainen
This study analyses what kind of concept images a group of engineering and teacher students have of the function concept, and how these concept images are related to the historical development of this concept. The study was conducted using questionnaires, and 34 students at a Swedish university participated. It is found that the students primarily rely on operational conceptions of the function concept, with only a minority of students possessing structural conceptions. The definitions given by the students mostly resemble an 18th or 19th century view of functions. The study also indicates that the character of the definitions given in the textbooks used by the students affect their concept images.
Olov Viirman is a graduate student in mathematics education at the department of Electronics, Mathematics and Science, University of Gävle, and the department of Mathematics, Karlstad University. His research interests are the teaching and learning of mathematical concepts, particularly at the university level.
Iiris Attorps is senior lecturer in mathematics education at the Department of Electronics, Mathematics and Science, University of Gävle. Research interest: learning and teaching mathematical concepts from preschool to university level.
Timo Tossavainen is senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Eastern Finland and docent of mathematics education at the University of Tampere. He has got a Ph.D. in mathematics and his research interests cover function theory and mathematics education at secondary and tertiary levels. He is a co-author of several mathematics textbooks for upper secondary schools and universities.