Developing algebraic thinking
This module is for you if you are interested in developing your knowledge and understanding of the learning of algebra particularly at Key Stages 2–4. It integrates development of the core ideas of algebra with relevant pedagogical constructs and principles, and will extend your awareness of how people learn and use algebra. There is no formal examination: assessment is based on tutor-marked assignments and an end-of-module assessment. To complete the module assessment, you'll need to work with a learner or learners who will be pleasantly challenged by secondary school-level mathematics.
What you will study
The module is designed to:
- develop your algebraic thinking
- raise your awareness of the importance of learners expressing generality for themselves
- provide experience of different teaching approaches and the learning opportunities they afford
- develop your awareness of, and facility with, ICT in the learning and teaching of algebra
- develop your knowledge and understanding of the mathematics which underpins Key Stage 2–4.
The module consists of four blocks of work. Each block has four chapters, which have recurring themes:
- expressing generality
- mathematical powers and themes
- symbol use
- use of technology.
Each section starts with a ‘quickie’ task, and then uses tasks for you to work on to introduce the topic. Thus the module is ‘practical’ in that it requires you to practise algebraic thinking. There are more tasks than can be completed in a first pass through the book, because it is intended to serve as a career-long resource.
Mathematical topics include: word-problems; figurate numbers; interplay between graphs, tables and formulae; introducing symbols; and reasoning with algebra.
Read the full content list here.
You will learn
Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in:
- communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly
- explaining mathematical ideas to others.
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.
The module is open to anyone aged 18 or over, though it is intended particularly for teachers, teaching assistants, home-school parents and special educational needs coordinators.
You do need to have a reasonable standard of spoken and written English to study successfully with us. Poor language skills will make study more difficult, and it will take longer. The normal requirements for English language skills are explained on our website.
Your own knowledge of algebra should be at, or above, the level of a B in GCSE maths, or you could have studied Mathematical thinking in schools (ME620).
We recommend that you study Mathematical thinking in schools (ME620) before this module as it provides a useful background in mathematics education and you are more likely to successfully complete this OU level 3 module.
If you are considering taking ME625 alongside another OU module, please bear in mind that the workload for this one alone is around 12 hours a week.
In order to complete the module assessment, you will need to work with a learner or learners who will be pleasantly challenged by secondary school-level mathematics. It is feasible for friends or family members to act as your learners, but it is preferable if you can work with some secondary age children.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
Module text and module guide, bookmark and website.
You will need
It would be very helpful, but not compulsory, to have access to a graphics calculator – the recommended models are the TI-83 Plus or TI-84 plus.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- Mac OS X 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.