Our goal in this paper is to study students’ understanding of integration by parts based on two theories, APOS and OSA. We make an epistemic configuration (EC) of primary objects that a student activate for solving tasks in relation to the integration by parts, and then we design a genetic decomposition (GD) of mental constructions that he/she might need to learn the integration by parts. We then describe the EC and GD in terms of the levels of development of Schema (i.e., intra, inter and trans). Three tasks in a semi-structured interview were used to explore twenty three first-year students’ understanding of integration by parts and classify their schemas. Results showed that students had difficulties in integration by parts, especially in using this technique to obtain a simpler integral than the one they started with. Using APOS and OSA gave us a clear insight about students’ difficulties and helped us to better describe students’ understanding of integration by parts.
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