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Excel Spreadsheets for Algebra: Improving Mental Modeling for Problem Solving
ARTICLE

, , , Penn State University, United States

JCMST Volume 33, Number 4, ISSN 0731-9258 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA

Abstract

This experiment investigates the effectiveness of Excel spreadsheets in a high school algebra class. Students in the experiment group convincingly outperformed the control group on a post lesson assessment. The student responses, teacher observations involving Excel spreadsheet revealed that it operated as a mindtool, which formed the users’ mental models more similar to the tool itself. The engagement with the tool allowed students to easily replicate its functionality in this problem solving task opposed to the limited strategies used by the control group of students taught through worked examples. By working with Excel spreadsheets, the students were able to better identify manipulation of their problem spaces during the discovering solutions phase of problem solving. Subsequently, this development allowed for deeper levels of understanding algebraic relations and lead to high road transfer of the content.

Citation

Engerman, J., Rusek, M. & Clariana, R. (2014). Excel Spreadsheets for Algebra: Improving Mental Modeling for Problem Solving. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 33(4), 409-427. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved October 20, 2019 from .