Interacting with Indeterminate Quantities through Arithmetic Word Problems: Tasks to Promote Algebraic Thinking at Elementary School
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In this study, we analyze how 9–10-year-old pupils work with equations, a central aspect of algebraic thinking in early grades and a cornerstone for more formal learning of algebra. Specifically, we seek: (a) to describe the main characteristics of the tasks that support algebraic thinking through a translation process from arithmetic word problems to algebraic language and vice versa, and (b) to identify how pupils refer to indeterminate quantities in these contexts and what meaning they give to them. The analysis focuses on the semantic congruence of the expressions proposed by them and on the dialogue they held during the translation process. We analyzed the oral discussion in the pools and the written responses to the problem that pupils posed. The results show that arithmetic word problems allow the indeterminate to become an object of thought for pupils, who represent it in multiple ways and refer to it when proposing equations that represent the structure of each problem. Anothe...
arithmetic word problems