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ERIC Number: EJ1093083
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Using Meaningful Contexts to Promote Understanding of Pronumerals
Linsell, Chris; Cavanagh, Michael; Tahir, Salma
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v69 n1 p33-40 2013
Developing a conceptual understanding of elementary algebra has been the focus of a number of recent articles in this journal. Baroudi (2006) advocated problem solving to assist students' transition from arithmetic to algebra, and Shield (2008) described the use of meaningful contexts for developing the concept of function. Samson (2011, 2012) also made use of contexts in order to promote ideas of generalisation and equivalent expressions, while Green (2008, 2009) described the use of spreadsheets for investigating functions and solving equations in meaningful contexts. Although many authors promote the use of meaningful contexts there has been little evidence of any positive effect of such approaches. This article describes approaches to teaching algebra in two recent independent projects, the Multifaceted Variable Approach project in Sydney, Australia (researchers worked with teachers at an independent girls' school studying Year 7 students, age 12-13 years) and the the Teaching Algebra Conceptually project in New Zealand (researchers worked in with five teachers of Year 9 classes (age 13-14 years) from two secondary schools), both of which made extensive use of meaningful contexts. The three aspects of pronumerals (generalised numbers, variables and unknowns) were taught using real contexts to associate meaning with the pronumeral involved. Both projects demonstrated a positive impact of the approaches on junior secondary students' understandings of pronumerals. These findings suggest that classroom teachers should explore the use of meaningful contexts for teaching algebra.
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A