Mathematics students and teachers are familiar with the difficulty of learning and teaching concepts of continuity and limits. Research has expanded our knowledge of how students think about these concepts, including different conceptions and metaphors students use to reason about continuity and limits at a point. From the literature I have identified four potentially problematic conceptions (PPCs) students may use when reasoning about limit and continuity at a point. Questionnaires were administered to 861 BYU students in various mathematics courses to determine how prevalent and persistent the PPCs are among the students in each course. Interviews were conducted with nine first semester calculus to get an idea of how students reason about continuity and limit at a point and how that influences whether they use the PPCs. Students showed evidence of holding the four PPCs with a decrease in these conceptions typically after they took a course in analysis. Participants also did not understand the Formal definition of a Limit until they took a course in Analysis. Students were able to reason appropriately using many different conceptions of continuity. Considering limit conceptions, students using a Dynamic conception of Limit tended to be better able to reason about continuity and limit at a point. Students who did not use a Dynamic conception of limit tended to use the PPCs in general and incorrectly more often.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Mathematics Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Amatangelo, Miriam Lynne, "Student Understanding of Limit and Continuity at a Point: A Look into Four Potentially Problematic Conceptions" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 3639.
Calculus, Limit, Continuity, Conceptions, Misconceptions, Concept Image