Connecting Research to Teaching: Teaching Trigonometric Functions: Lessons Learned from Research

Author: Keith Weber
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Trigonometry is an important subject in the high school mathematics curriculum. As one of the secondary mathematics topics that are taught early and that link algebraic, geometric, and graphical reasoning, trigonometry can serve as an important precursor to calculus as well as collegelevel courses relating to Newtonian physics, architecture, surveying, and engineering. Unfortunately, many high school students are not accustomed to these types of reasoning (Blackett and Tall 1991), and learning about trigonometric functions is initially fraught with difficulty. Trigonometry presents many first-time challenges for students: It requires students to relate diagrams of triangles to numerical relationships and manipulate the symbols involved in such relationships. Further, trigonometric functions are typically among the first functions that students cannot evaluate directly by performing arithmetic operations.

Footnotes

Libby Knott, knott@mso.umt.edu University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812

Thomas A. Evitts, taevit@ship.edu Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA 17257

Contributor Notes

Keith Weber, keith.weber@gse.rutgers.edu, is an assistant professor of mathematics education at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is interested in how high school and college students learn mathematics, including trigonometry and proof.

(Corresponding author is Weber keith.weber@gse.rutgers.edu)
The Mathematics Teacher

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