Learning beginning algebra in a computer-intensive environment

Michal Tabach, Rina Hershkowitz, Tommy Dreyfus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a design research on learning beginning algebra in an environment where spreadsheets were available at all times but the decision about using them or not, and how, in any particular situation was left to the students. Students' activity is analyzed in Kieran's framework of generational, transformational and global/meta-level activity, and compared to the designers' intentions. We do this by focusing on the activity of one student in four sessions spread over several months and discussing the activity of 51 additional students in view of the analysis of the focus student. We show that the environment enables a number of different entries into algebra and as such supports students in becoming autonomous learners of algebra, and in making the shift from arithmetic to algebra via generational and global/meta-level activity before dealing with the more technical transformational activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-391
Number of pages15
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Algebraic generational activity
  • Algebraic transformational activity
  • Beginning algebra
  • Computer intensive environment
  • Global/meta-level activity
  • Instrumental genesis and instrumental orchestration

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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