Fifth-grade students solving linear equations supported by physical experiences

Otten, M., Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., Veldhuis, M., & Heinze, A. (2019). Fifth-grade students solving linear equations supported by physical experiences. In U. T. Jankvist, M. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, & M. Veldhuis (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eleventh Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (pp. 646–653). Freudenthal Group & Freudenthal Institute, Utrecht University and ERME.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a six-lesson teaching intervention on fifthgrade students’ linear equation solving abilities. A hanging mobile, a balance model consisting of a horizontal beam with on each side a number of bags hanging on a chain, played a central role in this intervention. In total, 213 fifth-graders participated in one of the two intervention conditions or in the control condition. The intervention conditions differed with respect to the type of hanging mobile; either a physical hanging mobile that students could manipulate or a static version on paper. Preliminary analyses of the scores on the pre- and post-test seemed to show an improvement in students’ linear equation solving abilities for students in both intervention conditions. Students, who worked in an embodied learning environment with a physical hanging mobile, seemed to show more improvement than students who worked with a paper-based mobile.