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The role of cognitive conflict in developing students' understanding of average


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Watson, JM 2007 , 'The role of cognitive conflict in developing students' understanding of average' , Educational Studies in Mathematics, vol. 65, no. 1 , pp. 21-47 , doi: 10.1007/s10649-006-9043-3.

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Two strands of research motivate this study. One is the interest in school
students’ development of understanding of the concept of average, historically part of the
mathematics curriculum and prominent in the statistics curriculum introduced in the early
1990s. The other is the belief of some educators that students learn meaningfully when
experiencing cognitive conflict that challenges incorrect or incomplete understandings.
This study presented 58 students in Grades 3, 6, and 9 with a series of questions about the
concept of average. After initial levels of response were observed, students were presented
with alternative responses on video from other school students and asked to choose which
best resolved the task at hand. Initial responses confirmed the levels of understanding in
an earlier study based on the same questions. Responses after the experience of cognitive
conflict were either at the same level as before or higher, with no student finally agreeing
with a lower level response. The results are compared with longitudinal change in relation
to average and change resulting from cognitive conflict in relation to other areas of chance
and data. Implications of the research are considered.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Watson, JM
Keywords: arithmetic mean, average, cognitive conflict, school students, interview data
Journal or Publication Title: Educational Studies in Mathematics
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0013-1954
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s10649-006-9043-3
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