Pupils' visual representations in standard and problematic problem solving in mathematics: Their role in the breach of the didactical contract
SourceEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
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This study investigated the modes of representations generated by kindergarteners and first graders while solving standard and problematic problems in mathematics. Furthermore, it examined the influence of pupils' visual representations on the breach of the didactical contract rules in problem solving. The sample of the study consisted of 38 kindergarteners (age 5-6) and 34 first graders (age 6-7). Two standard problems (addition and subtraction) and two problematic problems were given to the participants. The majority of kindergarteners used a variety of spontaneous visual representations in order to solve both types of problems. In contrast, first graders mainly used symbolic representations corresponding to the numbers involved in the text of the problems. Results also suggested that the visual representations prevented kindergarteners from obeying the didactical contract rules. In fact, many kindergarteners were inclined to draw descriptive pictures about the meaning of the problems, without persevering in giving a symbolic answer in the standard problems or providing a stereotyped solution for the problematic problems. First graders, however, gave a routine solution, that is, a symbolic answer to the two problematic problems, complying with the didactical contract rule that every problem given to them has an answer. © 2009 EECERA.