
06445204
j
2015d.00691
Byrd, Caroline E.
McNeil, Nicole M.
Chesney, Dana L.
Matthews, Percival G.
A specific misconception of the equal sign acts as a barrier to children's learning of early algebra.
Learn. Individ. Differ. 38, 6167 (2015).
2015
Elsevier, Amsterdam
EN
H22
H23
H32
H33
D72
D73
E42
E43
conceptual development
individual differences
learning
early algebra
doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2015.01.001
Summary: Children's equal sign understanding affects learning of early algebra. Most studies to date have focused exclusively on the presence of relational interpretations of the equal sign (e.g., ``the same as" or ``equal to"), without examining how different types of nonrelational interpretations affect learning. Children's (3rd and 5th graders; $M$ age = 9 yrs, 11 mos) equal sign interpretations were measured prior to instruction on mathematical equivalence. In addition to helpful effects of relational interpretations, we hypothesized that an arithmeticspecific interpretation (e.g., ``what something adds to") would be more likely to hinder children's learning than would other nonrelational interpretations. Results supported these hypotheses. Presence of relational interpretations was helpful in both grades, and an arithmeticspecific equal sign interpretation negatively predicted 5th graders' endofyear early algebra performance. Equal sign interpretations were not associated with arithmetic performance in either grade. Results extend our understanding of how equal sign interpretations shape children's mathematics learning.