Foundational ways of thinking for understanding the idea of logarithm

Emily Kuper, Marilyn Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study explored two undergraduate precalculus students’ understandings of the idea of logarithm as they completed conceptually oriented exploratory lessons on exponential and logarithmic functions. The students participated in consecutive, individual teaching experiments that focused on Sparky – an animated mystical saguaro that doubled in height every week. The exponential lesson focused on developing students’ conceptions of growth factors and tupling (e.g., doubling) periods as a foundational understanding for conceptualizing logarithms and logarithmic properties meaningfully. This paper characterizes conceptions that are productive for students to acquire in introductory lessons on exponential and logarithmic growth, and discusses two understandings that were revealed to be foundational for students’ development of productive meanings for exponents, logarithms and logarithmic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100740
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Exponent
  • Exponential
  • Growth factor
  • Logarithm
  • Logarithmic
  • Tupling-period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Applied Mathematics


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