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Young students learning formal algebraic notation and solving linear equations: are commonly experienced difficulties avoidable?

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journal contribution
posted on 08.07.2015, 13:25 by Dave HewittDave Hewitt
This study looks at a mixed ability group of 21 Year 5 primary students (aged 9-10 years old) who had previously never had formal instruction using letters to stand for unknowns or variables in a mathematics context; nor had they been introduced to formal algebraic notation. Three lessons were taught using the computer software Grid Algebra where they began working with formal notation and were solving linear equations with some degree of success by the end of the lessons. The teaching was such that nothing was explained or justified by the teacher explicitly. The students appeared either not to meet, or to overcome quickly, some of the difficulties identified within previous research studies. They demonstrated remarkable confidence working with complicated linear algebraic expressions written in formal notation. A key feature of the software activities was that formal notation continually needed to be used and interpreted, and the software provided neutral feedback which enabled the students to educate their interpretation of the notation. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Educational Studies in Mathematics

Volume

81

Issue

2

Pages

139 - 159

Citation

HEWITT, D., 2012. Young students learning formal algebraic notation and solving linear equations: are commonly experienced difficulties avoidable? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 81 (2), pp. 139 - 159.

Publisher

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2012

Notes

This is an accepted version of an article that was published in the journal, Educational Studies in Mathematics [© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.]. The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10649-012-9394-x

ISSN

0013-1954

eISSN

1573-0816

Language

en

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