The Emergence of Symbolic Algebraic Thinking in Primary School

  • Luis RadfordEmail author
Part of the ICME-13 Monographs book series (ICME13Mo)


This chapter presents the results of a longitudinal investigation on the emergence of symbolic algebraic thinking in young students in the context of sequence generalization. The investigation rests on a characterization of algebraic thinking based on its analytic nature and a careful attention to the semiotic systems through which students express the mathematical variables involved. Attention to the semiotic systems and their interplay led us to identify non-symbolic and symbolic (alphanumeric) early algebraic generalizations and the students’ evolving intelligibility of the variables and their relationships, and mathematical sequence structure. The results shed some light on the transition from non-symbolic to symbolic algebraic thinking in primary school.


Early algebra Semiotic systems Pattern generalization Algebraic generalizations 



This chapter is a result of a research program funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada/Le conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (SSHRC/CRSH).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École des sciences de l’éducationUniversité LaurentienneSudburyCanada

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