Those muddling M's: Scaffolding understanding of averages in mathematics

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    Compared to the use of the word average in the media and in everyday conversations, the word average is used very precisely in Mathematics, complicated by the fact that there are three different types of average, namely means, medians, and modes. As with other concepts, scaffolding understanding of mathematical averages is important, understanding being one of the proficiency strands or key ideas in The Australian Curriculum. The aim of a focus on understanding is avoidance of superficial statements about averages and of descriptions referring to methods of calculating averages with no connections to conceptual understanding and to real-life applications. Developing understanding of the averages can be achieved through multiple scaffolding activities, including activities that focus on real data, and activities that extend to critical thinking about the use of the words average and median in the media.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6-12
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralian Mathematics Teacher
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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