Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 351–367 | Cite as

Evolution of a teaching approach for beginning algebra

  • Rakhi Banerjee
  • K. Subramaniam


The article reports aspects of the evolution of a teaching approach over repeated trials for beginning symbolic algebra. The teaching approach emphasized the structural similarity between arithmetic and algebraic expressions and aimed at supporting students in making a transition from arithmetic to beginning algebra. The study was conducted with grade 6 students over 2 years. Thirty-one students were followed for a year, and data were analysed as they participated in the three trials conducted that year. Analysis of students’ written and interview responses as the approach evolved revealed the potential of the approach in creating meaning for symbolic transformations in the context of both arithmetic and algebra as well as making connections between arithmetic and symbolic algebra. Students by the end of the trials learnt to use their understanding of both procedures and a sense of structure of expressions to evaluate/simplify expressions and reason about equality/equivalence of expressions both in the arithmetic and the algebraic contexts.


Arithmetic Algebra Structure Teaching approach Term Equality Expressions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bharat Ratna Dr. B. R. Ambedkar UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental ResearchMumbaiIndia

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