Use of words and visuals in modelling context of annual plant

Jungeun Park, Joseph DiNapoli, Robert A. Mixell, Alfinio Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study looks at the various verbal and non-verbal representations used in a process of modelling the number of annual plants over time. Analysis focuses on how various representations such as words, diagrams, letters and mathematical equations evolve in the mathematization process of the modelling context. Our results show that (1) visual representations such as flowcharts are used not only in the process to symbolization, but also used in the justification of symbols, (2) some of the visual representations serve as a bridge between the words in the problem context and the symbols that represent the mathematical equations of the number of annual plants and (3) words and context help to introduce visual representations and symbols. Also, once students come up with the visual representations and symbols, they show better understanding about words used in the problem context. These observations imply that the modelling and mathematization process is not just one-directional and linear from words describing real-life situations to the symbols in mathematical equations and expressions. Rather, the mathematization can be promoted through using other visuals that help make this transition smooth by organizing the given information in a way that can be used towards mathematization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-701
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2017


  • Mathematical modelling
  • mathematization
  • recurrence relation
  • representations


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