Types of Student Errors in Mathematical Symbols, Graphs and Problem-Solving

  •  Arsaythamby Veloo    
  •  Hariharan Krishnasamy    
  •  Wan Shahida Wan Abdullah    


This study aims to identify the level of difficulty, discrimination and errors based on symbols, graphs andproblem-solving in mathematics achievement. The participants consisted of 315 grade 10 students randomlyselected from eight secondary day schools situated in the state of Kedah, Malaysia. The mathematics written testconsisted of 15 open-ended items with five items each for symbols, graphs and problem-solving and all the itemswere analyzed using the difficulty and discrimination index. Semi-structured clinical interviews were alsocarried out among 20 selected students to identify the errors they had made in mathematics. In the contentanalysis, the descriptor code key was used to identify conceptual, careless, problem- solving and value errors.The findings showed that item 4 (Standard Form) of the symbols, item 6 (Linear Equation) of the graphs, anditem 15 (Line & Plane in 3 Dimension) of the problem-solving was the most difficult item in mathematics. All ofthese items had a good discrimination as well as difficulty index. Content analysis showed that 52 (57%)students made conceptual errors, 22 (24%) made careless errors, 12 (13%) made problem-solving errors and 5(6%) made value errors. The major reasons given for errors made were a lack of understanding, procedures beingforgotten, negligence in transcribing information from the question, carelessness and guesswork. This study hasimplications for the student learning process and understanding graphs because graphs are widely used in dailylife to manage, communicate and analyze information.

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