Abstract by Katelyn Harman
Keith Leatham, Blake Peterson
Misconceptions Related to Translating from the English Language to Mathematical Language
In describing mathematical scenarios in the English language, we use conventions commonly accepted in the English language. However, when we use these conventions when translating a mathematical situation into the mathematical language it can lead to misunderstandings because the strictness of the mathematical language is different from the norms of the English Language. When we, students and teachers alike, use these culturally accepted conventions without ever actually stating them precisely, it leaves room for misconceptions. The MOST team, a research team at Brigham Young University, analyzed student work in response to a prompt that asked students about a price that was increased 50%. In English this statement is (by convention) interpreted as adding 50% of the original price to the original price, but in many ways this operation is not stated explicitly. Confusion can arise when students begin to translate this 50% into mathematical language. I will discuss the dangers of these implied conventions and how they can lead to misunderstandings in student reasoning.