Developing Mathematics Understanding and Abstraction: The case of Equivalence in the Elementary Years

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Generalising arithmetic structures is seen as a key to developing algebraic understanding. Many adolescent students begin secondary school with a poor understanding of the structure of arithmetic. This paper presents a theory for a teaching/learning trajectory designed to build mathematical understanding and abstraction in the elementary school context. The particular focus is on the use of models and representations to construct an understanding of equivalence. The results of a longitudinal intervention study with five elementary schools, following 220 students as they progressed from Year 2 to Year 6, informed the development of this theory. Data was gathered from multiple sources including interviews, videos of classroom teaching, and pre- and post-tests. Data reduction resulted in the development of nine conjectures representing a growth in integration of models and representations. These conjectures formed the basis of the theory.

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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