The Parametric Nature of Two Students’ Covariational Reasoning

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Researchers have argued that covariational reasoning is foundational for learning a variety of mathematics topics. We extend prior research by examining two students’ covariational reasoning with attention to the extent they became consciously aware of the parametric nature of their reasoning. We first describe our theoretical background including different conceptions of covariation researchers have found useful when characterizing student reasoning. We then present two students’ activities during a teaching experiment in which they constructed and reasoned about covarying quantities. We highlight aspects of the students’ reasoning that we conjectured created an intellectual need that resulted in their constructing a parameter quantity or attribute, a need we explored in closing teaching episodes. We discuss implications of these results for perspectives on covariational reasoning, students’ understandings of graphs and parametric functions, and areas of future research.



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