
06434191
a
2015c.00741
Hewitt, Dave
The space between the unknown and a variable.
Oesterle, Susan (ed.) et al., Proceedings of the 38th conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education ``Mathematics education at the edge", PME 38 held jointly with the 36th conference of PMENA, Vancouver, Canada, July 1520, 2014, Vol. 3. [s. l.]: International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (ISBN 9780864913609/set; 9780864913630/v.3). 289296 (2014).
2014
[s. l.]: International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
EN
H20
H30
D70
E40
variables
algebraic problems
students' difficulties
equations
Summary: The meaning given to letters is significant for students' ability to be successful with algebraic tasks. Recent studies have noted that even when students have a sense of generalised number, they often have a natural number bias in the values they think a letter can take. This study analyses interviews from 13 students across two schools to explore the meaning they had for letters. The responses supported the idea that some students have a natural number bias and also that the notion of a letter representing a fraction is problematic. In addition, three other factors emerged which affected the meaning given to a letter: what was mentally stressed; the desire to avoid ``messy" calculations; and viewing an equation as an example of a wider class of equations.