n South African Journal of Education - An APOS analysis of natural science students' understanding of derivatives




This article reports on a study which used the APOS (action-process-object-schema) theoretical framework to investigate university students' understanding of derivatives and their applications. Research was done at the Westville Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The relevant rules for finding derivatives and their applications were taught to under-graduate science students. This paper reports on the analysis of students' responses to six types of questions on derivatives and their applications. The findings of this study suggest that those students had difficulty in applying the rules for derivatives and this was possibly the result of many students not having appropriate mental structures at the process, object and schema levels.


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