The Flagpole Factory: Providing a Referent for Linear Equations
A change of emphasis in mathematics education may be needed from a mechanical and computational focus to a problem-solving approach. A first step in facilitating this goal is to place children in situations emphasizing problem-solving skills, requiring them to develop and apply their own logic structures. This paper describes a microcomputer based interactive icon processor for use in helping students develop a referent base for the solution of systems of simultaneous linear equations. The instructional model used in this paper proceeds from the initial use of manipulatives through abstraction via four transitional problem types: manipulatives, sketches, mental pictures, and abstraction. The processor as an anthropomorphic expert is available when help or feedback is needed, and as currently implemented, possesses a certain degree of responsiveness to individual differences in problem-solving strategy. In addition, the computer keeps a chronological record of the operations a student using the software performs, as well as the number, content, and sequencing of hints given. A sample word problem and solution steps are appended. (YP)
Connell, M.L. & Ravlin, S.B. The Flagpole Factory: Providing a Referent for Linear Equations.