Exploring Early Algebra: Making Meaningful Connections in the Elementary Classroom
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAlgebra is traditionally absent from elementary classrooms. Historically, learning theorists believed that young students are restricted in cognitive competence for abstract thinking; however, research in mathematics education demonstrates that children are capable of algebraic reasoning in the elementary grades. Currently, topics in elementary mathematics focus on particular instances rather than generality, and students often struggle when first introduced to algebraic concepts. A suggestion to ease a shift in thinking about particular numbers to thinking about relations among sets of numbers is the integration of algebra in the elementary grades, described as early algebra. In this paper, I provide a definition of early algebra and propose a research study to investigate whether elementary students are able to make meaningful connections between their mathematics knowledge and early algebra activities. In particular, I am interested in the following questions: How do elementary students make meaningful connections in early algebra activities and what role does natural language play in facilitating algebraic reasoning in the elementary grades?
Degree ProgramHonors College