Assessing covariation as a form of conceptual understanding through comparative judgement

Sara Bagossi, Federica Ferretti, Ferdinando Arzarello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on the importance of covariational reasoning within the processes of mathematics teaching and learning. Despite the internationally recognized relevance of covariation, research shows that only a small percentage of students and teachers is able to adopt covariational reasoning and the majority of mathematics curricula do not contain explicit references to covariational skills. In particular, when covariational reasoning manifests as conceptual knowledge, it becomes challenging to assess, and the need for innovative methods of assessment emerges; there is a need for suitable assessment to highlight the characteristics of covariation and capture the various features that characterize conceptual understanding. Comparative judgement (CJ) is an innovative assessment method based on collective expert judgements of students’ work rather than requiring scoring rubrics. Due to its holistic approach, CJ is particularly suitable for assessing complex mathematical competencies, and, as we shall see in this study, it proved to be appropriate for the covariation’s assessment. In details, our study aims to investigate the perception and relevance attributed by mathematics teachers to covariation as a theoretical construct and the way CJ can help in the assessment of covariational reasoning skills underlying a less structured modelling task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-492
Number of pages24
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • Assessment
  • Comparative judgement
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Covariation
  • Modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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