Transforming Mathematics: Using Dynamic Geometry Software to Strengthen Understanding of Enlargement and Similarity

Jo Denton


This article discusses the potential to use Dynamic Geometry Software (DGS) to form conceptual links across enlargement and similarity by developing learners’ understanding of scale factor and ratio. From the theoretical perspective of situated abstraction, a combination of both situated cognition and mathematical abstraction, it analyses existing literature on the teaching, learning and assessment of enlargement and similarity as well as literature on DGS and how it acts as a microworld, where an array of situations in a mathematically consistent environment can be created. Particular focus is given to how the dragging and measurement facilities in DGS support abstractions through both amplification and reorganisation of traditional pencil and paper methods. The empirical element of this article describes a small scale classroom based project on the use of DGS as a microworld for transformation geometry. Through analysing learners’ dialogue and written responses to tasks, it proposes that a combination of minimally pre-constructed tasks, peer-discussion and utilising the dragging and measurement facilities, can enhance the observation of patterns in transformation geometry and concludes that these conditions can support learners to move from the particular to the general, allowing abstractions to be conceived and strengthening learners’ understanding of enlargement and similarity.


Dynamic Geometry Software (DGS); Mathematical Abstraction; Microworld; Situated Abstraction; Situated Cognition; Transformation Geometry

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