# Functional Thinking: A Study with 10th-Grade Students

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## Abstract

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## 1. Introduction

## 2. Functional Thinking

#### 2.1. Functional Thinking as Part of Algebraic Reasoning

(1) recursive patterning involves finding variation within a sequence of values; (2) covariational thinking is based on analyzing how two quantities vary simultaneously and keeping that change as an explicit, dynamic part of a function’s description (e.g., “as $x$ increases by one, $y$ increases by three”); and (3) a correspondence relationship is based on identifying a correlation between variables (e.g., “$y$ is 3 times $x$ plus 2”). (p. 8)

#### 2.2. Functional Thinking and Students Learning about Functions

- Mapping: for each element x of the domain, there is a single element y of the range. This is a level of functional thinking that translates functions as a requirement to perform calculations.
- Covariation: the variation in the independent variable x and the resulting covariation of the dependent variable y. This describes the change in y if x changes uniformly.
- Function as object: this includes the recognition that functions offer the possibility of understanding the described process as a whole.

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- Recognize the correspondence between related variables independently of the representation used;
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- Determine the values of the dependent variable given the value of the independent one and vice versa;
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- Recognize the joint variation in the variables involved in a relation independently of the representation used;
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- Determine the interval of variation in one variable given the interval of variation in the other one;
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- Symbolize a functional relationship based on the analysis of the data of a problem.

## 3. Method

Requested abilities | |

Mapping | Calculate variable values. |

Correspondence | Establish relationships between domain and range values. |

Covariation | Relate the variation in the dependent variable as a function of the variation in the independent variable. |

Function as object | Elaborate definitions.Operate with functions. |

## 4. Results

#### 4.1. Task 1: Classification of Functions—Injectivity, Subjectivity, and Bijectivity

#### 4.2. Task 2: Composite Function

- S16: We first find g(5); that is 25.
- S8: And f(25) is $\sqrt{21}$.

#### 4.3. Task 3: Transformations of Functions’ Graphs

## 5. Conclusions

#### 5.1. Characteristics of the Students Functional Thinking

#### 5.2. Difficulties Revealed by the Students

#### 5.3. Final Remarks

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Institutional Review Board Statement

## Informed Consent Statement

## Data Availability Statement

## Conflicts of Interest

## References

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**Figure 10.**Resolution of student S25 when calculating $f\left[g\left(x\right)\right]$ in question 3—Task 2.

Lesson | Mathematical Focus of the Tasks | Tasks Addressed |
---|---|---|

1 | Review of concepts about functions | |

2 | Generalities related to the concept of function | |

3 | Classification of functions—injectivity, subjectivity, and bijectivity | √ |

4 | Composite function | √ |

5 | Inverse function | |

6 | Even and odd functions | |

7$-$9 | Transformations of function graphs | √ |

10 | Monotony and extremes of a function |

Question | 1 | 2 | 3 | |||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

1.1 | 1.2 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 3.1 | 3.2 | |

(i) Mapping | – | – | – | – | – | – |

(ii) Correspondence | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ |

(iii) Covariation | – | – | – | – | – | – |

(iv) Function as object | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ |

Question | 1 | 2 | 3 |
---|---|---|---|

(i) Mapping | – | √ | √ |

(ii) Correspondence | – | √ | √ |

(iii) Covariation | – | – | – |

(iv) Function as object | √ | √ | √ |

Question | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | |||||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | |

(i) Mapping | √ | – | – | √ | – | – | √ | – | – | √ | – | – | – |

(ii) Correspondence | √ | – | – | √ | – | – | √ | – | – | √ | – | √ | √ |

(iii) Covariation | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ |

(iv) Function as object | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ | √ |

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**MDPI and ACS Style**

Martins, R.; Viseu, F.; Rocha, H. Functional Thinking: A Study with 10th-Grade Students. *Educ. Sci.* **2023**, *13*, 335.
https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040335

**AMA Style**

Martins R, Viseu F, Rocha H. Functional Thinking: A Study with 10th-Grade Students. *Education Sciences*. 2023; 13(4):335.
https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040335

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Martins, Raquel, Floriano Viseu, and Helena Rocha. 2023. "Functional Thinking: A Study with 10th-Grade Students" *Education Sciences* 13, no. 4: 335.
https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040335