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Use of Multiplicative Commutativity by School Children and Street Sellers

Analucia D. Schliemann, Claudia Araujo, Maria Angela CassundiSuzana Macedo, Lenice Nicias 

July 1998, Volume 29, Issue 4, Page 422

We analyzed use of the commutative property for solving multiplication problems by children who learn about multiplication in schools and by street vendors who solve multiplication problems through repeated addition. Subjects were Brazilian street vendors with irregular school attendance, who had received no, or very little, school instruction on multiplication, and 1st- to 3rd-grade Brazilian school children. Results from 2 studies show that use of commutativity to solve multiplication problems is closely related to use of multiplication. Street sellers who rely exclusively on repeated addition to solve such problems may, however, use multiplicative commutativity if it represents a clear reduction in the number of computational steps needed to reach a solution. But their justifications for its use are often based on knowledge about multiplication.

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