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Issues in Educational Research, 2020, Vol 30(2), 756-781.
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The role of analogies and anchors in addressing students' misconceptions with algebraic equations

Helen Tooher and Patrick Johnson
University of Limerick, Ireland

This pilot study explores the effectiveness of a strategy for overcoming post-primary students' misconceptions within the topic of algebra. Although central to the study of mathematics, algebra can be an area of difficulty for many students. A misconception is typically classified as flawed understanding of a concept causing repeated errors, and the prevalence of algebraic misconceptions has been well documented in the literature. Previous studies in probability and statistics have shown that the use of analogies to misconception-prone situations can act as anchors to effect conceptual change and assist in correcting misconceptions. This project follows a framework that has been successfully utilised in previous research, with two versions of a test and interviews conducted with 25 students. The results identified the presence of, and links between, some common misconceptions among the students regarding their knowledge of algebraic equations and also provided insight regarding an effective technique for addressing these misconceptions.
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Authors: Helen Tooher is a graduate of the Professional Master of Education (Mathematics) program at the University of Limerick and is currently a second level teacher of mathematics at Portlaoise College, Laois, Ireland.
Email: htooher@portlaoisecollege.ie

Dr Patrick Johnson (corresponding author) is a lecturer in Mathematics Education at the University of Limerick in Ireland. His current research interests focus on the topics of mathematics teacher education, problem solving, mathematics teacher knowledge and attitudes towards mathematics.
Email: Patrick.Johnson@ul.ie

Please cite as: Tooher, H. & Johnson, P. (2020). The role of analogies and anchors in addressing students' misconceptions with algebraic equations. Issues in Educational Research, 30(2), 756-781. http://www.iier.org.au/iier30/tooher.pdf

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