Abstract by Chelsea Dickson
Teachers' Use of the Equal Sign
Research has shown that many students do not have an adequate understanding of the equal sign. Most students see the equal sign only as a computational symbol. These students typically struggle in the transition from arithmetic to algebra and are unsuccessful with solving equations. Researchers define the equal sign as either an operational symbol or a relational symbol, and that to have an adequate understanding of the equal sign students must have both understandings. However, it is likely that there are multiple acceptable understandings of the equal sign beyond operational and relational. In my thesis I attempt to understand how teachers use the equal sign symbolically and verbally during instruction of early algebra concepts. By identifying the multiple ways the equal sign is used in algebra instruction, we can know what meanings of the equal sign students must learn in order to be successful in algebra.