Molina, M., Castro, E. y Castro, E. (2009). Elementary students’ understanding of the equal sign in number senteces. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology., 7(1), 341-368.
Interested in the curricular proposal of integrating algebraic thinking in ele-mentary mathematics, we analyse the understanding of number sentences of a group of ele-mentary students and its evolution when working on solving open and true/false number sen-tences. Method: A teaching experiment with a group of eight-nine years old students which shares the features of research design. It consisted of six one-hour in-class sessions, over a period of one year, in which we proposed students individual written activities, whole group discussions and individual interviews. Results: Students evidenced four different meanings of the equal sign which are here used to establish different levels in their understanding. By using these levels, we analyze the evolu-tion of students´ understanding of the sentences along the experiment. Discussion: Students evidenced the used of multiplicity of meanings of the equal sign and some displayed some instability in their understanding along the six sessions. The specific factors that explain that instability are identified and some didactical consequences are ob-tained. The obtained results are contrasted with those of previous studies. This study has been developed within a Spanish national project of Research, Development and Innovation, identified by the code SEJ2006-09056, financed by the Spanish Ministry of Sciences and Technology and FEDER funds.