TME(2020) Vol 1, No. 2, pp 102-121

Finding Correct Solution(s) ⇏ Creating Correct Algorithm(s): Shedding More Light on How and Why

John Griffith TUPOUNIUA

Massey University
New Zealand

Published in The Mathematician Educator, 2020, Vol 1, No. 2, pp 102-121.


The growing global emphasis on computational thinking in school curricula requires enhancing students’ competencies in algorithmatizing—i.e., creating, testing, and revising an algorithm. Building on a small body of relevant literature, the present study seeks to shed more light on a particular phenomenon pertaining to students’ algorithmatizing activity—how some students can easily find the correct solutions to the problem(s) at hand, yet the algorithms that these students create are not always ones that would, when implemented, produce the correct solution(s) for the same problems. I investigate this phenomenon within the work of two Year 9 secondary school students working on a contextualized algorithmatizing task. In their work, the two students constantly solved specific instances correctly, but created algorithms that were incorrect, both for specific cases and for the general case. From my analysis of their work, I put forth plausible hypotheses for the phenomenon of interest and propose some suggestions for future research and practice.

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