Covariational reasoning and invariance among coordinate systems

Kevin C. Moore, Teo Paoletti, Stacy Musgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Researchers continue to emphasize the importance of covariational reasoning in the context of students' function concept, particularly when graphing in the Cartesian coordinate system (CCS). In this article, we extend the body of literature on function by characterizing two pre-service teachers' thinking during a teaching experiment focused on graphing in the polar coordinate system (PCS). We illustrate how the participants engaged in covariational reasoning to make sense of graphing in the PCS and make connections with graphing in the CCS. By foregrounding covariational relationships, the students came to understand graphs in different coordinate systems as representative of the same relationship despite differences in the perceptual shapes of these graphs. In synthesizing the students' activity, we provide remarks on instructional approaches to graphing and how the PCS forms a potential context for promoting covariational reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-473
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Covariational reasoning
  • Function
  • Graphing
  • Multiple representations
  • Polar coordinates


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