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Exploring the way rational expressions trigger the use of “mental” brackets by primary school students
School of Primary Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Praktiknära utbildningsforskning (PUF), Mathematics Education Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2199-1627
2020 (English)In: Educational Studies in Mathematics, ISSN 0013-1954, E-ISSN 1573-0816Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

When a number sentence includes more than one operation, students are taught to follow the rules for the order of operations to get the correct result. In this context, brackets are used to determine the operations that should be calculated first. However, it seems that the written format of an arithmetical expression has an impact on the way students evaluate this expression. It also seems that a connection exists between this way of evaluation and an understanding of structure. Both issues are examined in this paper. A number of arithmetical expressions in a rational form were given to primary school students from Greece and Sweden. The collected findings strengthen our hypothesis that this rational form of the arithmetical expressions was of critical importance for the students’ decision on how to evaluate these expressions. They temporarily put aside their knowledge about the rules for the order of operations. Instead, the way they evaluated the expressions indicates an implicit use of what we call in this paper “mental” brackets. It is very likely that the use of these “mental” brackets is closely connected with students’ structure sense.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2020.
Keywords [en]
Brackets, Evaluation of arithmetical expressions, Mental brackets, Order of operations
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-47462DOI: 10.1007/s10649-019-09929-zScopus ID: 2-s2.0-85077695261Local ID: ;HLKPUFISOAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-47462DiVA, id: diva2:1387006
Available from: 2020-01-20 Created: 2020-01-20 Last updated: 2020-01-22

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Gunnarsson, Robert

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