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ERIC Number: EJ765485
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jul
Pages: 16
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8251
Does Understanding the Equal Sign Matter? Evidence from Solving Equations
Knuth, Eric J.; Stephens, Ana C.; McNeil, Nicole M.; Alibali, Martha W
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, v36 n4 p297-312 Jul 2006
Given its important role in mathematics as well as its role as a gatekeeper to future educational and employment opportunities, algebra has become a focal point of both reform and research efforts in mathematics education. Understanding and using algebra is dependent on understanding a number of fundamental concepts, one of which is the concept of equality. This article focuses on middle school students' understanding of the equal sign and its relation to performance solving algebraic equations. The data indicate that many students lack a sophisticated understanding of the equal sign and that their understanding of the equal sign is associated with performance on equation-solving items. Moreover, the latter finding holds even when controlling for mathematics ability (as measured by standardized achievement test scores). Implications for instruction and curricular design are discussed. (Contains 7 figures, 2 tables and 3 footnotes.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A