Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Function Conceptions of AP Calculus Students

Vrabel, Adam R. (2014) Function Conceptions of AP Calculus Students. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (2MB) | Preview


Functions are one of the most important topics in secondary school mathematics, especially for students who wish to take higher-level mathematics courses beginning with calculus. The prerequisites for Advanced Placement Calculus state that a thorough understanding of functions is needed for those who wish to succeed in the course and pass the AP Calculus Exam. However, research has shown that students’ struggles with calculus concepts could be traced to inadequate prerequisite knowledge of functions. Since thousands of students take and pass the AP Calculus Exam every year, it is important to investigate which aspects of functions AP Calculus students generally do and do not understand, and to determine how well their understandings of functions relate to their performance on the exam.
In order to explore this, students from AP Calculus classes in three different schools were tested on their understandings of functions at the end of the course, after they had already taken the AP Calculus Exam. Additionally, some of the participants were also interviewed to further ascertain their understandings of functions. Finally, the AP Calculus Exam scores for all participants were collected and compared to their function understandings. It was found that 1) most participants’ understandings of functions were less than sufficient for an AP Calculus course, and 2) there was a high positive correlation between function understandings and scores on the AP Calculus Exam. These results suggest that more work must be done in developing students’ understandings of functions in the secondary mathematics curriculum, and greater measures should be taken to ensure that students entering AP Calculus have a sufficient understanding of the prerequisite knowledge.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Vrabel, Adam R.arv15@pitt.eduARV15
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSmith, Margaret S.pegs@pitt.eduPEGS
Committee MemberAnsell, Ellenansell@pitt.eduANSELL
Committee MemberGreeno, Jamesjimgrno@pitt.eduJIMGRNO
Committee MemberWard,
Date: 30 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 February 2014
Approval Date: 30 September 2014
Submission Date: 24 August 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 186
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: functions, calculus, precalculus, secondary mathematics
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2014 15:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:23


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item