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ERIC Number: EJ1116707
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Oct
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Questioning the Order of Operations
Dupree, Kami M.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v22 n3 p152-159 Oct 2016
For decades, students have been encouraged to use "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" as a means of learning the order of operations. Teachers unfamiliar with the Aunt Sally mnemonic are perhaps more familiar with a mnemonic such as PEMDAS. Each mnemonic is intended to convey "parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction." Although many students accurately recall these intended references, some authors have suggested that mnemonics fail to guard against incorrect calculations. Indeed, even some prospective teachers fail to correctly apply the order of operations when relying on mnemonics. This article advocates abandoning familiar mnemonics and explains why. It also shares experiences from the preparation and delivery of a one-hour workshop, wherein mathematics teachers, coaches, and curriculum specialists explored the myths perpetuated by traditional mnemonics and discussed possible changes to their instructional approaches regarding the order of operations.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-9840; Fax: 703-476-2570; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Utah
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A