Third Grade Students’ Use of Relational Thinking
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Mathematics educationRelational thinkingNumber senseNumeric equalitiesArithmetic properties
Molina, M.; Castro, E. Third Grade Students’ Use of Relational Thinking. Mathematics 2021, 9, 187. https://doi.org/10.3390/math9020187
SponsorshipSpanish State Research Agency and European Regional Development Funds: EDU2016-75771-P
Current mathematics curricula have as one of their fundamental objectives the development of number sense. This is understood as a set of skills. Some of them have an algebraic nature such as acquiring an abstract understanding of relations between numbers, developing awareness of properties and of the structure of the decimal number system and using it in a strategic manner. In this framework, the term relational thinking directs attention towards a way of working with arithmetic expressions that promotes relations between their terms and the use of properties. A teaching experiment has allowed to characterize the way in which third grade students use this type of thinking for solving number equalities by distinguishing four profiles of use. These profiles inform about how students employ relations and arithmetic properties to solve the equalities. They also ease the description of the evolution of the use of relational thinking along the sessions in the classroom. Uses of relational thinking of different sophistication are distinguished depending on whether a general known rule is applied, or relations and properties are used in a flexible way. Results contribute to understanding the process of developing the algebraic component of number sense.