Mathematics education graduate students' understanding of trigonometric ratios


YİĞİT KOYUNKAYA M.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, vol.47, no.7, pp.1028-1047, 2016 (ESCI) identifier identifier

Abstract

This study describes mathematics education graduate students' understanding of relationships between sine and cosine of two base angles in a right triangle. To explore students' understanding of these relationships, an elaboration of Skemp's views of instrumental and relational understanding using Tall and Vinner's concept image and concept definition was developed. Nine students volunteered to complete three paper and pencil tasks designed to elicit evidence of understanding and three students among these nine students volunteered for semi-structured interviews. As a result of fine-grained analysis of the students' responses to the tasks, the evidence of concept image and concept definition as well as instrumental and relational understanding of trigonometric ratios was found. The unit circle and a right triangle were identified as students' concept images, and the mnemonic was determined as their concept definition for trigonometry, specifically for trigonometric ratios. It is also suggested that students had instrumental understanding of trigonometric ratios while they were less flexible to act on trigonometric ratio tasks and had limited relational understanding. Additionally, the results indicate that graduate students' understanding of the concept of angle mediated their understanding of trigonometry, specifically trigonometric ratios.