Elementary students’ recognition of algebraic structure: Not all tasks are created equal

2012-04-13
İşler Baykal, Işıl
Maria, Blanton
Knuth, Eric
Marum, Tim
Gardiner, Angela
This paper reports results from a written assessment given to 290 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students. We share and discuss students’ responses to items addressing their understanding of equation structure and the meaning of the equal sign. We found that while an operational view of the equal sign was predominant, some students were able to recognize underlying structure in arithmetic equations. The degree to which students were successful varied from task to task, with extremely “obvious” tasks such as 5 + 3 = ___ + 3 being more apt to elicit structure-based strategies. Our findings can inform early algebra efforts by identifying tasks that have the potential to help students begin to think about equations in a structural way.

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Citation Formats
I. İşler Baykal, B. Maria, E. Knuth, T. Marum, and A. Gardiner, “Elementary students’ recognition of algebraic structure: Not all tasks are created equal,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association, 13 - 17 Nisan 2012, 2012, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: http://www.aera.net/Portals/38/docs/Annual_Meeting/Final%20Program/ProgramSchedule.pdf.