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ERIC Number: EJ1061895
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-May
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 71
ISSN: ISSN-0022-0663
Arithmetic Practice Can Be Modified to Promote Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence
McNeil, Nicole M.; Fyfe, Emily R.; Dunwiddie, April E.
Journal of Educational Psychology, v107 n2 p423-436 May 2015
This experiment tested if a modified version of arithmetic practice facilitates understanding of math equivalence. Children within 2nd-grade classrooms (N = 166) were randomly assigned to practice single-digit addition facts using 1 of 2 workbooks. In the control workbook, problems were presented in the traditional "operations = answer" format (e.g., 4 + 3 = __) and were organized pseudorandomly throughout the workbook. In the modified workbook, problems were presented with operations on the right side (e.g., __ = 4 + 3), the equal sign was sometimes replaced by relational words (e.g., "is equal to"), and problems were organized by equivalent sums such that several problems in a row would all have the same sum. Children who used the modified workbook constructed a better understanding of math equivalence than did children who used the control workbook. This advantage persisted approximately 5-6 months after the practice had ended, and there were no observed "trade-offs" with computational fluency. A mediation analysis showed that the modified practice improved understanding as intended by decreasing children's reliance on operational patterns. Results suggest that small differences in the organization and format of arithmetic practice can yield substantial differences in children's understanding of fundamental mathematics concepts.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 2; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305B070297