Using spreadsheets to discover meaning for parameters in nonlinear models

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The Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Vol: 27, Issue: 4, Page: 423-441

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Green, Kris H
Mathematics; Science and Mathematics Education
article description
Using spreadsheets one can develop an exploratory environment where mathematics students can develop their own understanding of the relationship between the parameters of commonly encountered families of functions (linear, logarithmic, exponential and power) and a natural interpretation of “rate of change” for those functions. The key to this understanding involves expanding the concept of rate of change to include percent changes. Through the use of the spreadsheet model, students can explore and easily determine which type of change is most natural for a given family of functions. This, in turn, provides a mechanism for interpreting the parameters of the function numerically, rather than graphically, as is common.