This research was supported by an APA Dissertation Award. Portions of these data were presented at the 2004 meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Preparation of this article was supported in part by Grant R305B070297 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Thanks to Martha Alibali, Julia Evans, Colleen Moore, Jenny Saffran, Mark Seidenberg, and members of the Cognitive Development Research Group at the University of Wisconsin for their input. Thanks also to Heather Brletic-Shipley for her enthusiasm.
Limitations to Teaching Children 2 + 2 = 4: Typical Arithmetic Problems Can Hinder Learning of Mathematical Equivalence
Article first published online: 15 SEP 2008
© 2008, Copyright the Author(s); Journal Compilation © 2008, Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 79, Issue 5, pages 1524–1537, September/October 2008
How to Cite
McNeil, N. M. (2008), Limitations to Teaching Children 2 + 2 = 4: Typical Arithmetic Problems Can Hinder Learning of Mathematical Equivalence. Child Development, 79: 1524–1537. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01203.x
- Issue published online: 15 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 15 SEP 2008
Do typical arithmetic problems hinder learning of mathematical equivalence? Second and third graders (7–9 years old; N= 80) received lessons on mathematical equivalence either with or without typical arithmetic problems (e.g., 15 + 13 = 28 vs. 28 = 28, respectively). Children then solved math equivalence problems (e.g., 3 + 9 + 5 = 6 + __), switched lesson conditions, and solved math equivalence problems again. Correct solutions were less common following instruction with typical arithmetic problems. In a supplemental experiment, fifth graders (10–11 years old; N= 19) gave fewer correct solutions after a brief intervention on mathematical equivalence that included typical arithmetic problems. Results suggest that learning is hindered when lessons activate inappropriate existing knowledge.