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Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 451–474 | Cite as

Young children's combinatoric strategies

  • Lyn D. English
Article

Abstract

Children aged between 4 years 6 months and 9 years 10 months were individually administered a series of novel tasks involving the formation of different combinations of two items, selected from discrete sets of items. An analysis of the children's performance revealed a series of six, increasingly sophisticated, solution strategies ranging from a random selection of items through to a systematic pattern in item choice (cf. Piaget and Inhelder's, 1975, combinatoric operations). A significant number of children independently adopted more efficient solution procedures as they progressed on the tasks, with many displaying an algorithmic procedure reflecting the “odometer strategy” (holding one item constant while systematically varying each of the other items). Given that children as young as 7 years demonstrated this systematic strategy, it would appear that, within the appropriate learning environment, young children can discover a procedure for forming n x n combinations prior to the stage of formal operations postulated by Piaget and Inhelder. The findings support the inclusion of the combinatorial domain as a topic of investigation in the elementary school curriculum.

Keywords

Young Child Learning Environment Elementary School Random Selection Solution Procedure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lyn D. English
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Mathematics and Science EducationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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