Reflection: Checks for Understanding Polynomial Function Workshop - Section 1: Review Workshop


While students were working I would stop in to each table group or they would come to ask me questions. I received some interesting questions that were a way to formatively assess students' understanding of polynomial functions.

1. For question #2, students were to find the equation for the graph below. I gave the students the answers to this worksheet so they could check their work as they went, and many students asked about how to find the leading coefficient of this function. One thing that students continually asked is, "how do we know if a function has an a value or not?"

When we got back together and discussed as a class, I was sure to point out that every polynomial function has an a value, although if it is 1 you can't "see" it. This was not really a misconception, but something that definitely had to be clarified.

2. Another theme I saw was students trying to use the vertex formula (x = -b/(2a)) for all types of polynomial functions instead of just quadratics. Students were thinking that it could be used to find relative extrema for third and fourth degree polynomials.

Again, this is something I definitely wanted to address when we had our class discussion. My guess is that part of the misconception stems from the fact that students are probably not given a verification for this formula when they learn it in Algebra 1 - it is just presented as a fact. Proving this formula uses sophisticated math that an Algebra 1 student may not be ready for, so students may never really understand why it works.

  Do Students Understand Polynomial Functions?
  Checks for Understanding: Do Students Understand Polynomial Functions?
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Polynomial Function Workshop

Unit 2: Polynomial and Rational Functions
Lesson 5 of 12

Objective: SWBAT solve problems that involve polynomial functions.

Big Idea: Take a breather and summarize the important concepts involving polynomial functions.

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