# Focusing on informal strategies when linking arithmetic to early algebra

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## Abstract

In early algebra students often struggle with equation solving. Modeled on Streefland's studies of students' own productions a prototype pre-algebra learning strand was designed which takes students' informal (arithmetical) strategies as a starting point for solving equations. In order to make available the skills and tools needed for manipulating equations, the students are stimulated and guided to develop suitable algebraic language, notations and reasoning. One of the results of the study is that reasoning and symbolizing appear to develop as independent capabilities. For instance,students in grades 6 and 7 can solve equations at both a formal and an informal level, but formal symbolizing has been found to be a major obstacle.

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