First year university students' strategies and resources for solving unfamiliar problems in integral calculus

Speaker: Vegard Topphol, NTNU, Norge


The transition from upper secondary education to higher educatiom is one riddled with numerous challenges for the students. In mathematics, one of the challenges is the change in the type of tasks and the way these tasks are worded and presented to the students.

In this talk, I will present my PhD study where I examine how students tackle unfamiliar tasks. In the study, six individual first year calculus students are presented with mathematics tasks, all with the common theme of integral calculus, ranging from relatively familiar to quite unfamiliar in form. The students were then observed as they individually attempted to solve these tasks.

In the analysis of the data, the Anthropological Theory of Didactics (ATD) is used as the main theoretical framework. In addition, a tool developed out of the Instrumental Approach, as a result of the first paper in this study, is also used in structuring the data for the analysis.