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ERIC Number: EJ803658
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0732-3123
The Powers and Pitfalls of Algorithmic Knowledge: A Case Study
Ebby, Caroline Brayer
Journal of Mathematical Behavior, v24 n1 p73-87 2005
This study examines one child's use of computational procedures over a period of 3 years in an urban elementary school where teachers were using a standards-based curriculum. From a sociocultural perspective, the use of standard algorithms to solve mathematical problems is viewed as a cultural tool that both enables and constrains particular practices. As this student appropriated and mastered procedures for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, she could solve problems that involved fairly straightforward computations or where she could easily model the action to determine an appropriate computation. At the same time, her use of these algorithms, along with other readily available tools, such as her fingers or multiplication tables, constrained her ability to reflect on the tens-structure of the number system, an effect that had serious consequences for her overall mathematical achievement. The results of this study suggest that even when not directly introduced, algorithms have such strong currency that they can mediate more reform-oriented instruction. (Contains 3 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A