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ERIC Number: EJ920859
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
A Conceptual Approach to Absolute Value Equations and Inequalities
Ellis, Mark W.; Bryson, Janet L.
Mathematics Teacher, v104 n8 p592-598 Apr 2011
The absolute value learning objective in high school mathematics requires students to solve far more complex absolute value equations and inequalities. When absolute value problems become more complex, students often do not have sufficient conceptual understanding to make any sense of what is happening mathematically. The authors suggest that the absolute value concept can be more powerfully leveraged by teaching students to use a transformational approach to make sense of the meaning of the solution set. This method has been used with middle school and high school students with remarkable success. When students understand the meaning of absolute value and can transform an equation or inequality so that the coefficient of the variable is 1, they are able to find the solution set easily by: (1) determining the location of the critical points that are equidistant from the "anchor point" (which represents an offset from zero); and (2) identifying whether the solutions fall on, between, or beyond these points. In this article, the authors present a primer for using this approach. (Contains 5 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: High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A