Students’ understanding of axial and central symmetry
Keywords:axial symmetry, central symmetry, circle, geometrical concepts, line segment, rhomboid
The paper focuses on students’ understanding of the concepts of axial and central symmetries in a plane. Attention is paid to whether students of various ages identify a non-model of an axially symmetrical figure, know that a line segment has two axes of symmetry and a circle has an infinite number of symmetry axes, and are able to construct an image of a given figure in central symmetry. The results presented here were obtained by a quantitative analysis of tests given to nearly 1,500 Czech students, including pre-service mathematics teachers. The paper presents the statistics of the students’ answers, discusses the students’ thought processes and presents some of the students’ original solutions. The data obtained are also analysed with regard to gender differences and to the type of school that students attend. The results show that students have two principal misconceptions: that a rhomboid is an axially symmetrical figure and that a line segment has just one axis of symmetry. Moreover, many of the tested students confused axial and central symmetry. Finally, the possible causes of these errors are considered and recommendations for preventing these errors are given.
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