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Children's Conceptual Structures for Multidigit Numbers and Methods of Multidigit Addition and Subtraction

Karen C. Fuson, Diana Wearne, James C. Hiebert, Hanlie G. Murray, Pieter G. Human, Alwyn I. Olivier, Thomas P. Carpenter, Elizabeth Fennema 

March 1997, Volume 28, Issue 2, Page 130

Researchers from 4 projects with a problem-solving approach to teaching and learning multidigit number concepts and operations describe (a) a common framework of conceptual structures children construct for multidigit numbers and (b) categories of methods children devise for multidigit addition and subtraction. For each of the quantitative conceptual structures for 2-digit numbers, a somewhat different triad of relations is established between the number words, written 2-digit marks, and quantities. The conceptions are unitary, decade and ones, sequence-tens and ones, separate-tens and ones, and integrated sequence-separate conceptions. Conceptual supports used within each of the 4 projects are described and linked to multidigit addition and subtraction methods used by project children. Typical errors that may arise with each method are identified. We identify as crucial across all projects sustained opportunities for children to (a) construct triad conceptual structures that relate ten-structured quantities to number words and written 2-digit numerals and (b) use these triads in solving multidigit addition and subtraction situations.

Linking Research and Practice
Addition and Subtraction
Grades 3-5
Curriculum Developer
Conceptual Development
Reasoning and Proof