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ERIC Number: EJ829236
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0022-0663
Equivalence in Symbolic and Nonsymbolic Contexts: Benefits of Solving Problems with Manipulatives
Sherman, Jody; Bisanz, Jeffrey
Journal of Educational Psychology, v101 n1 p88-100 Feb 2009
Children's failure on equivalence problems (e.g., 5 + 4 = 7 + __) is believed to be the result of misunderstanding the equal sign and has been tested using symbolic problems (including "="). For Study 1 (N = 48), we designed a nonsymbolic method for presenting equivalence problems to determine whether Grade 2 children's difficulty is due to the presence of symbols or to a more fundamental misunderstanding of equivalence. Children's superior performance on nonsymbolic versus symbolic problems suggests that children fail to map their understanding of equivalence onto problems presented with the symbols of arithmetic. For Study 2 (N = 32), we implemented a within-subject design to assess whether experience with nonsymbolic problems would facilitate performance on symbolic problems. This hypothesis was confirmed. Exposure to nonsymbolic problems may have enabled children to map their successful concepts and strategies to symbolic equivalence problems. (Contains 6 figures and 1 table.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 2
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada