Through a commognitive lens, we examine twelve first-semester biology students’ engagement with graphing routines as they work in groups, during four sessions of Mathematical Modelling (MM). We trace the students’ meta-level learning, particularly as they fluctuate between deploying graphs for mere illustration of data and as sense-making tools. We account for student activity in relation to precedent events in their experiences of graphing and as fluid, if not always productive, interplay between ritualised and exploratory engagement with graph construction and interpretation routines. The students’ construal of the task situations is marked by efforts to keep up with lecturer expectations which allow for changing degrees of student agency but do not factor in the influence of precedent events. Our analysis has pedagogical implications for the way MM problems are formulated and also foregrounds the capacity of the commognitive framework to trace de-ritualization and meta-level learning in students’ MM activity.
- Graph construction and interpretation routines
- Mathematical modelling
- Mathematics in biology
- Meta-level learning