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An investigation of seventh grade students’ understanding of negative integers via mathematics history-based model-eliciting activities

Ay, Büşr
The main purpose of the study was to investigate the role of mathematics historybased model-eliciting activities (MEAs) on seventh grade students’ understanding of negative integers. The study was conducted in one public middle school in Istanbul, in the Fall semester of 2018-2019 academic year. A qualitative educational case study design was employed with 29 seventh grade students. A set of integer questions were implemented twice to the participant students as an initial and a follow-up assessment. After the initial assessment, data collection procedure was continued by implementing three mathematics history-based MEAs. The data sources for this study were written worksheets of each group from the implementation of mathematics history-based MEAs, initial and follow-up assessments of each student, video and audio records of the implementation of activities. The data were analyzed by content analysis. The findings of this study indicated that mathematics historybased MEAs helped students to better make sense of negative integers, improved students’ understanding of negative integers and mathematical reasoning and justification capabilities in operations with integers. In the implementation process of activities, it was observed that most of the students are more productive and concentrated while they are studying as groups on a real-life related mathematical model. With the light of these findings, it is suggested that integration of the mathematics history into modeling perspective could be considered as an alternative teaching method for different mathematics topics in different grade levels. This study also suggests that the mathematics history-based MEAs could also be used to improve professional development of mathematics teachers to understand the role of such activities on students’ understanding and to enhance teachers’ teaching portfolio.