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Kathleen Lynch and Jon R. Star

Although policy documents promote teaching students multiple strategies for solving mathematics problems, some practitioners and researchers argue that struggling learners will be confused and overwhelmed by this instructional practice. In the current exploratory study, we explore how 6 struggling students viewed the practice of learning multiple strategies at the end of a yearlong algebra course that emphasized this practice. Interviews with these students indicated that they preferred instruction with multiple strategies to their regular instruction, often noting that it reduced their confusion. We discuss directions for future research that emerged from this work.

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Algebra entered America's school curriculum in the early part of the nineteenth century. Since that time, it has often been the centerpiece of educational debate and discussion. Kilpatrick and Izsák provide an excellent overview of the evolution of school algebra in the United States in “A History of Algebra in the School Curriculum,” the first chapter in Algebra and Algebraic Thinking in School Math.