Young children's ability to use the balance strategy to solve for unknowns

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This article examines students’ ability to use the balance model to solve for unknowns. A teaching experiment was conducted in four Year 3 classrooms. This experiment focused on exploring the application of the balance model as an analogue for representing equations and solving for unknowns. The teaching experiment promoted a shift by students towards viewing addition and subtraction equations in terms of equivalence, where the situation is viewed in a multi-directional way (i.e., balance). Initially the lessons were trialed by the researchers in two classrooms. The lessons were then implemented in a further two classrooms by two classroom teachers in conjunction with the researchers. Two weeks after the conclusion of the teaching experiment, a one-on-one interview was conducted with a random sample comprising twenty students with an average age of eight years. The interviews indicated that while the balance model did assist students reach solutions for finding unknowns, for some students further explicit teaching was required.


School of Education

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Journal Article

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ERA Access