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A theoretical framework for understanding the different attention resource demands of letter-symbolic versus model method
Solving algebra word problems
Multiple solutions
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Paper presented at the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-12), Seoul, Korea, 8-15 July 2012
The Singapore model method was introduced as a heuristic to support the problem solving capacity of upper primary pupils, but has been found to impact on their subsequent acquisition of letter-symbolic algebra. This is consistent with recent neuroimaging studies which demonstrated that letter-symbolic algebra draws more heavily on the attention resources of the students but which were unable to account for the difference between the two methods. This paper provides a theoretical framework which explains all of these results, providing teachers with a deeper understanding of the difference between the two approaches, in order to guide students through a more confident transition from model to algebraic solution methods.
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