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Late-arrived immigrants in school and performance in arithmetic for negative numbers
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5609-0752
2013 (English)In: Proceedings of the 37th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education / [ed] Anke M. Lindmeier, Aiso Heinze, International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education , 2013, Vol. 5, 252-252 p.Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper reports from a study on immigrant and native students tested in negative number arithmetic as one of several topics in school mathematics. In general immigrant students perform lower the later they have immigrated (Böhlmark, 2008). Students often find working with negative numbers difficult and Vlassis (2004) identified two kinds of conceptual changes needed for productive use of the minus and subtraction sign. First, the arithmetic rules are different for addition and subtraction. For example, subtraction is not commutative. Second, the minus sign has a flexible use exemplified by the expression (-23) + 9 = 9 – 23 = -(23 – 9). The expression uses the minus sign as a signed integer (non-operational), a subtraction (operational) and a reflection (operational) and a flexible change between these.

In this study 356 school year 9 students in six Swedish schools, with an over average percentage of immigrants, took a test. Several test problems were formulated so that they were likely to not cause too much of language obstacles for second language learners. In this report the test problem “Calculate 12 – 23 + 9” is in focus. This problem was characterized in Duval’s (2006) semiotic registers as mainly “computations” and scarcely dependent on natural language. One result is that about half of the solutions contained sign errors. There were few arithmetic errors and few other unclassified errors. A second result is that the students who immigrated during school years 1 – 7 clearly underperformed compared to the other students while those who immigrated during school years 8 – 9 performed slightly better than the native students. In this on-going research project one conclusion is that there seems to be a need to see early and late immigrants as having different challenges in being second language learners. The former have difficulties in following some advanced topics in mathematics teaching and the latter have difficulties in understanding some test questions. A second conclusion is that there is a need in research to look at specific topics in mathematics, especially advanced compulsory school mathematics such as negative numbers and algebra, for these student categories.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education , 2013. Vol. 5, 252-252 p.
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139225OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-139225DiVA: diva2:1071652
Conference
37th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Kiel, Germany, July 28 - August 2, 2013
Available from: 2017-02-06 Created: 2017-02-06 Last updated: 2017-02-06Bibliographically approved

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