TY - JOUR

T1 - Exploring Israeli high school graduates’ explanations for the spread of the coronavirus

AU - Rotem, Sigal Hava

AU - Ayalon, Michal

N1 - Funding Information: The first author, Sigal-Hava Rotem, is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

PY - 2021/10

Y1 - 2021/10

N2 - The aim of this study is to explore Israeli high school graduates’ mathematical explanations for the spread of the coronavirus, given that the mathematics required to do so was part of their school curriculum. An online questionnaire consisting of two sections provided a variety of potential framings for explaining the phenomenon. The first section invited the participants to explain the spread of the coronavirus in terms of their school majors in general, with no specific reference to mathematics. The second section asked explicitly to explain the mathematical context underlying the phenomenon. In this section, the participants were asked to discuss the Prime Minister’s speech given in the media a few weeks earlier, in which he described the spread of the coronavirus as a geometric series. Data analysis of 87 participants’ responses to the questionnaire revealed 11 different mathematical ideas used to explain the spread of the coronavirus. These ideas included are as follows: doubling, sequence, exponential growth, using powers, tree diagram, recursion, fast-growing rate with covariation, probability, parabola and quadratic function, acceleration, and factorial. It was also found that the second section of the questionnaire elicited a wider range of mathematical ideas than the first one. We suggest possible explanations for the emergence of the mathematical ideas, which seem to reflect the graduates’ intuitive knowledge, influenced not only by their mathematics track level but also by their chosen high school majors. Possible implications are discussed.

AB - The aim of this study is to explore Israeli high school graduates’ mathematical explanations for the spread of the coronavirus, given that the mathematics required to do so was part of their school curriculum. An online questionnaire consisting of two sections provided a variety of potential framings for explaining the phenomenon. The first section invited the participants to explain the spread of the coronavirus in terms of their school majors in general, with no specific reference to mathematics. The second section asked explicitly to explain the mathematical context underlying the phenomenon. In this section, the participants were asked to discuss the Prime Minister’s speech given in the media a few weeks earlier, in which he described the spread of the coronavirus as a geometric series. Data analysis of 87 participants’ responses to the questionnaire revealed 11 different mathematical ideas used to explain the spread of the coronavirus. These ideas included are as follows: doubling, sequence, exponential growth, using powers, tree diagram, recursion, fast-growing rate with covariation, probability, parabola and quadratic function, acceleration, and factorial. It was also found that the second section of the questionnaire elicited a wider range of mathematical ideas than the first one. We suggest possible explanations for the emergence of the mathematical ideas, which seem to reflect the graduates’ intuitive knowledge, influenced not only by their mathematics track level but also by their chosen high school majors. Possible implications are discussed.

KW - Exponential growth

KW - High school graduates’

KW - High school graduates’ mathematical explanations

KW - Mathematical explanations of realistic phenomenon

KW - mathematical explanations

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85104806136&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-021-10042-3

DO - https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-021-10042-3

M3 - Article

C2 - 34934228

SN - 0013-1954

VL - 108

SP - 161

EP - 181

JO - Educational Studies in Mathematics

JF - Educational Studies in Mathematics

IS - 1-2

ER -