Documenting students' faulty schema and misconceptions about combinations and permutations

Lance C. Pittman, Geoffrey L. Herman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


STEM educators have devoted increasing attention to discrete mathematics in recent years due, in part, to its strong connections with subjects like computer science, probability and statistics, and business management. Combinatorics problems, in particular, while useful for modeling concrete situations, are often considered to be tricky for students. To develop a better understanding of students' conceptions regarding problems involving permutations and combinations, a secondary data analysis using a grounded theory approach was performed on transcripts of student interviews obtained during an earlier study. Participants had recently completed a college-level discrete mathematics course with a passing grade. Analysis focused on answering two research questions: 1) What patterns of responses do students generate while producing solutions to combinatorics word problems? 2) What underlying conceptual ideas lead to these patterns?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationLaunching a New Vision in Engineering Education, FIE 2015 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781479984534
StatePublished - Dec 2 2015
Event2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2015 - El Paso, United States
Duration: Oct 21 2015Oct 24 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityEl Paso


  • combinations
  • combinatorics
  • permutations
  • student conceptions/misconceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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