Investigating Children’s Multiplicative Thinking: Implications for Teaching
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Multiplicative thinking is a ‘big idea’ of mathematics that underpins much of the mathematics learned beyond the early primary school years. This article reports on a recent study that utilised an interview tool and a written quiz to gather data about children’s multiplicative thinking. Our research has so far revealed that many primary aged children have a procedural view of multiplicative thinking which we believe inhibits their progress. There are two aspects to this article. First, we present some aspects of the interview tool and written quiz, along with some of findings, and we consider the implications of those findings. Second, we present a key teaching idea and an associated task that has been developed from our research. The main purpose of the article is to promote the development of conceptual understanding of the multiplicative situation as opposed to the teaching of procedures. In doing so, we encourage the explicit teaching of the many connections within the multiplicative situation and between it and other ‘big ideas’ such as proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking.
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