The Effect of Math Modeling on Student’s Emerging Understanding

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Author: Andrzej Sokolowski, Lone Star College, United States of America
Published: September 2015

Citation: Sokolowski, A. (2015). The Effect of Math Modeling on Student’s Emerging Understanding. IAFOR Journal of Education, 3(2).


This study investigated the effects of applying mathematical modeling on revising students’ preconception of the process of optimizing area enclosed by a string of a fixed length. A group of 28 high school pre-calculus students were immersed in modeling activity that included direct measurements, data collecting, and formulating algebraic representation for the data. The lab conduct was enriched by scientific inquiry elements such as hypothesis stating and its verification. While 86% of the students (N=24) falsely hypothesized that the rectangular areas enclosed by a string of a fixed length will remain constant before engaging in the lab, the subsequent tasks of the modeling activity prompted the students to correct their ways of thinking. The study showed that the modeling processes provide ample means of revising students’ perception to establish firm conceptual background for inducing a more rigorous algebraic approach to solving problems in math classes. Suggestions for further studies follow.


mathematical modeling, optimization, problem solving, high school