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Mathematical Misconceptions
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Mathematical Misconceptions
A Guide for Primary Teachers

Edited by:


November 2008 | 176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
How do children relate to numbers and mathematics? How can they be helped to understand and make sense of them? People are rarely ambivalent towards mathematics, having either a love or hate relationship with the subject, and our approach to it is influenced by a variety of factors. How we are taught mathematics as children plays a big role in our feelings towards it. Numbers play a large part in our lives, and it is therefore beneficial to inspire a positive attitude towards them at a young age.

With contributors comprised of teachers, teacher educators, mathematicians, and psychologists, Mathematical Misconceptions brings together information about pupils' work from four different countries, and looks at how children, from the ages of 3 - 11, think about numbers and use them. It explores the reasons for their successes, misunderstandings, and misconceptions, while also broadening the reader's own mathematical knowledge. Chapters explore: 
  • The seemingly paradoxical number zero 
  • The concept of equality 
  • Children's perceptions and misconceptions of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing 
  • The learning process 
  • The ways in which children acquire number concepts
This unique book will transform the way in which primary school teachers think about mathematics. Fascinating reading for anyone working with children of this age, it will be of particular interest to teachers, trainee teachers, and teaching assistants. It shows them how to engage children in the mysteries and delights of numbers.
Anne d Cockburn and Paul Parslow-Williams
Zero: understanding an apparently paradoxical number
Paul Parslow-Williams and Anne D Cockburn
Equality: Getting the right balance
Sara Hershkovitz, Dina Tirosh and Pessia Tsamir
Beginning to unravel misconceptions
Dina Tirosh, Pessia Tsamir and Sara Hershkovitz
Insights into children's intuitions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
Pessia Tsamir, Sara Hershkovitz and Dina Tirosh
Right or Wrong? Exploring misconceptions in division
Anne D Cockburn
Developing an understanding of children's acquisition of number concepts
Graham Littler and Darina Jirotkova
Highlighting the learning processes
Carlo Marchini and Paoloa Vighi
Everyday numbers under a mathematical magnifying glass

'This book is a really interesting and useful volume...Each chapter has many questions, helpfully highlighted in boxes, so that the reader has the opportunity to pause and reflect. For me these questions turn this book from being good to excellent. Encouragingme to take the time to think about my own practice helps this book ask difficult but interesting questions. [It] is clearly aimed at primary teachers but I'm sure that secondary teachers would benefit hugely from this as well...I'm sure it will prompt useful and interesting discussions' -
Association of Teachers of Mathematics


'As a secondary teacher of mathematics I've found this a remarkable insight into the student's thinking - giving me clear background information to help me think about my classes and their misconceptions and how I could help the children develop their thinking' -
Association of Teachers of Mathematics

H.P. Koirala
Eastern Connecticut State University
CHOICE magazine

'This book is a really interesting and useful volume...Each chapter has many questions, helpfully highlighted in boxes, so that the reader has the opportunity to pause and reflect. For me these questions turn this book from being good to excellent. Encouragingme to take the time to think about my own practice helps this book ask difficult but interesting questions. [It] is clearly aimed at primary teachers but I'm sure that secondary teachers would benefit hugely from this as well...I'm sure it will prompt useful and interesting discussions' -
Association of Teachers of Mathematics


'As a secondary teacher of mathematics I've found this a remarkable insight into the student's thinking - giving me clear background information to help me think about my classes and their misconceptions and how I could help the children develop their thinking' -
Association of Teachers of Mathematics


Provides relevant misconceptions students may not have realised are caused by how they word explanations to children.

Ethel Anderson
Faculty of Education, Strathclyde University
February 12, 2013

A clear guide to the role of misconceptions in children's mathematical development.

Ms Helen Yorke
School of Primary Education, Birmingham City University
October 31, 2012

Used as recommended reading for inclusion elements of BA and PGCE coures

Mrs Rosalind Coleridge
School of Arts and Education, Middlesex University
June 23, 2011

Opportunities for all those involved in the education of primary aged children, whatever their role, to develop their understanding of the nature and basis of many mathematical misconceptions.
Effective personal engagement of the reader with regular opportunities to reflect on their own experience with 'pause for thought' feature and to extend their own thinking through 'challenges'.

Michael Lansley
School of Teacher Education, Chichester University
October 28, 2010

Recommended specifically as reading for a task unpacking children's misconceptions

Mrs Mary Briggs
Warwick Institute of Education, Warwick University
October 14, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction PDF

Chapter One PDF


Preview this book

Anne Cockburn

Anne D. Cockburn is a Professor Emeritus in Early Years Education at the University of East Anglia (UEA). She was educated in Edinburgh before reading Psychology at the University of St Andrews. Subsequently, she trained to be a primary teacher and taught in Scotland. In 1979, she became a Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster, working with Neville Bennett and Charles Desforges. Her PhD was completed in 1986 at the UEA. Following a period of working as a researcher, she took up her first lectureship at UEA in 1989. She became an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1994. Initially Anne's... More About Author

Paul Littler

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ISBN: 9781847874412
£29.99 

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