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Exploring Students’ Learning of Integral Calculus using Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy

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posted on 08.12.2021, 13:12 by Radmehr, Farzad

Integral calculus is one of the topics involved in mathematical courses both at secondary and tertiary level with several applications in different disciplines. It is part of gateway mathematical courses at universities for many majors and important for the development of the science. Several studies had been undertaken for exploring students’ learning of integral calculus, both at the secondary and tertiary level, using a variety of frameworks (e.g., Action-Process-Object-Schema (APOS) theory (Dubinsky, 1991). However, students’ learning of integral calculus has not been explored in terms of metacognitive experiences and skills, and the number of studies which have explored metacognitive strategies in relation to the students’ learning of integral calculus is limited. Therefore, this study used Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT) (Anderson et al., 2001), Efklides’s metacognition framework (Efklides, 2008), and an adaptation of VisA (Visualization and Accuracy) instrument (Jacobse & Harskamp, 2012) for exploring students’ learning of integral calculus.  A multiple case study approach was used to explore students’ learning of the integral-area relationships and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus in relation to the RBT’s factual, conceptual, and procedural knowledge, and the facets of metacognition including metacognitive knowledge, experiences, and skills. The study sample comprised of nine first year university and eight Year 13 students who participated in individual semi-structured interviews answering nine integral calculus questions and 24 questions related to the RBT’s metacognitive knowledge. Integral calculus questions were designed to address different aspects of RBT’s knowledge dimension and activate RBT-related cognitive processes. A think aloud protocol and VisA instrument were also used during answering integral calculus questions for gathering information about students’ metacognitive experiences and skills. Ten undergraduate mathematics lecturers and five Year 13 mathematics teachers were also interviewed in relation to the teaching and learning of integral calculus to explore students’ difficulties in the topic. The entire teaching of integral calculus in a first year university course and a Year 13 classroom were video recorded and observed to obtain a better understanding of the teaching and learning of integral calculus in the context of the study.  The study findings in terms of the RBT’s factual knowledge show several students had difficulty with notational aspects of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) (e.g., Thompson, 1994) whereas this issue was not dominant for the definite integral. In relation to the RBT’s conceptual and procedural knowledge for both topics, conceptual knowledge was less developed in students’ minds in comparison to procedural knowledge (e.g., students had not developed a geometric interpretation of the FTC, whereas they were able to solve integral questions using the FTC). The obtained results were consistent with previous studies for these three types of knowledge. The study contributes to the current literature by sharing students’ metacognitive knowledge, experiences and skills in relation to integral calculus. The findings highlight some student learning, monitoring, and problem-solving strategies in these topics. A comparison between University and Year 13 students’ results showed students across this transition had different factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive knowledge in these topics. For instance, University students in the sample use online resources more often than Year 13 students, are more interested in justifications behind the formulas, and have more accurate pre and post-judgments of their ability to solve integral questions. The information obtained using questions based on RBT and the metacognition framework indicates that these two together may be very useful for exploring students’ mathematical learning in different topics.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Mathematics Education

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure Basic Research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Averill, Robin; Drake, Michael