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(2009-07-06T12:25:20Z) Naidoo, Kona Sagaren Kanakasaby
Research in early algebra is critical because a smooth transition from arithmetic to
algebra will influence future algebra learning that is central to school mathematics.
This study investigated learners’ interpretation of letters in different levels of
generalised arithmetic activities. Thirty grade nine learners from one inner city school
participated in this study. All learners engaged with seventeen paper and pencil tasks
encompassing six different interpretations of letters and six learners were then
Analysis of the data showed that the overall performance of learners was very poor
and most learners have not been successful in making the transition from arithmetic to
algebra. Learner responses suggested a strong arithmetical influence and a poor
understanding of algebraic letter and basic manipulative skills. Throughout the data a
number of misconceptions surfaced which suggested that most learners in this sample
were lacking ‘symbol sense’.