Mathematical Misconceptions: Exploring the Teaching and Learning of Tangent Lines

Mark D. Hogue, Dominic Scarcelli


Misconceptions of mathematical content are formidable barriers to current and future learning. If these misconceptions go unnoticed they can stay with the student for years, impacting future learning. Tangent lines are a concept that students find particularly challenging, resulting in a variety of these kinds of misconceptions. This paper intends to describe a general plan for reducing student misconceptions in general, to provide some information on the nature of common student misconceptions about tangent lines, and to give examples of how these misconceptions can be prevented, identified, and corrected.

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