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Childrenâ??s difficulties with division: an intervention study| Abstract

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Educational Research

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Childrenâ??s difficulties with division: an intervention study

Abstract

Síntria Labres Lautert, Alina Galvão Spinillo and Jane Correa

This intervention study aimed at improving children’s understanding of division. One hundred lowincome Brazilian children aged eight to 11 years old attending the 3rd grade of elementary school who experienced difficulties with division were equally assigned to two experimental and two control groups. All participants were given a pre-test and post-test consisting of three tasks: Word Problem Task, Inverse Co-variation Task and Rules of Division Task. Children in the experimental groups were presented to problem-solving situations (exact and inexact division) in which the invariant principles underlying the concept of division were made explicit to them. These situations were accompanied by discussions and explanations on the role of the remainder, the importance of maintaining the equality of the parts and the inverse co-variation between the size of the parts and number of parts. The children in the experimental groups did significantly better on the post-test than the pre-test. The same did not occur with those in the control groups, who continued exhibiting difficulties in solving the tasks. The conclusion was that children can overcome their difficulties when the invariant principles underlying the concept of division are explicitly mentioned and associated to the problem-solving process. Educational implications are discussed.

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