A concrete approach to teaching symbolic algebra
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Student difficulties with the study of algebra have been well documented. The inability of many students to understand variables and formal symbolic manipulation act as a barrier to success in mathematics study. This report documents an intervention that uses a concrete approach to teaching algebra in a Year 9 class. Results indicate that much of the student struggle was associated with a lack of understanding of arithmetic concepts including those associated with equivalence, operations with negative integers, and the distributive law and fraction concepts. Once these difficulties were addressed through the explicit teaching of the links between materials and symbols, materials and language, language and symbols, students made considerable progress in writing, simplifying expressions, and solving equations with variables on both sides.
Mathematics: Essential Research, Essential Practice
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