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Flexible Mental Calculation

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Abstract

The ability to be flexible in mental calculation by using a method that is efficient for calculating the particular problem being faced is an important aim of teaching in this area. Flexibility is commonly seen as arising from a rational choice between mental calculation ‘strategies’, based on the characteristics of the problem faced. In this article it is argued that strategy choice is a misleading characterisation of efficient mental calculation, and that teaching mental calculation methods as wholes is not conducive to flexibility. An alternative is proposed in which calculation is thought of as an interaction between noticing and knowledge, and an associated teaching approach to promote flexibility is described.

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Threlfall, J. Flexible Mental Calculation. Educational Studies in Mathematics 50, 29–47 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020572803437

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020572803437

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