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# Misconceptions of Algebra

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Diagnostic Algebra Assessment Definitions

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Equality Symbol Misconception Graphing Misconception Definition Concept of a Variable Misconception

Equality Symbol Misconception

Graphing Misconception Definition
In algebra, students learn that a graph is a representation for a function. Students learn to translate between graphs, equations, and table of values. But just as the translation between equations and word problems is more difficult, students sometimes find interpreting the graph of a real world situation more difficult. Students may forget the algebraic relationships they have learned and resort to graphical misconceptions. The most common graphing misconceptions are treating a graph as a picture and slope-height confusion. An example of interpreting a graph as a picture might be a problem asking a student to draw a speed vs. time graph for a biker riding over a hill. Students with the misconception would draw the hill, and ignore that speed is asked for. Students do not look at the graph as showing speed as a function of time, but think of it more literally. An example of slope/height confusion might use the following graph:

The question could ask "Which internet company costs more per hour at 2 hours?" A student with the misconception would choose Call.com since it costs more at 2 hours. The student does not recognize that the problem asks for slope. (back to top)

Concept of a Variable Misconception

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