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ERIC Number: EJ916991
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
The Truth about PEDMAS
Ameis, Jerry A.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v16 n7 p414-420 Mar 2011
When learning the order of operations, students are instructed to adhere to a directive when determining the numerical value of an arithmetic expression. A more typical approach is the use of a popular mnemonic called PEDMAS (parentheses, exponents, division, multiplication, addition, subtraction). The literature is scant on conceptual approaches to teaching order of operations. The approaches do not involve students developing a significant understanding of why the indicated order should be followed or under what conditions it should be followed. The emphasis is on students following PEDMAS (or variants) in a prescribed manner. However, PEDMAS and its variants do not encourage conceptual understanding of the order of operations. They may also partially explain why students make particular mistakes in arithmetic and in corresponding algebraic forms. In this article, the author discusses the myth of PEDMAS as a mathematical law and describes the advantage of developing the hierarchy-of-operators triangle to students. He points out that developing the hierarchy-of- operators triangle and its application encourages conceptual thinking and understanding. It also has a potentially significant payoff when learning algebra. (Contains 6 figures.)
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 - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A