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**Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1
**

Tutorial Friday 10-12pm

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Investigating Children’s Understanding

of Mathematical Ideas and Concepts:

Place Value

Written by Serena Gibson-Page

Introduction

This paper reports on a student’s mathematical understandings of place value within the

whole number numeration system. It will investigate misconceptions based on theoretical

research and evaluate a Year Four student’s cognitive process of place value concepts in

relation to Baturo’s (2000) Numeration Model in conjunction with Jones, Thornton & Putt’s

(1994) Multidigit Number-sense Framework. The interview questions were employed from

Baturo & Cooper’s (2008) Developing mathematics understanding through cognitive

diagnostic assessment task. Assessment task 4A was selected as an appropriate diagnostic

assessment reflective of the current Australian National Curriculums Year 4 content

descriptors for number and place value with particular reference to recognise, represent and

order numbers to at least tens of thousands (ACMNA072) and apply place value to partition,

rearrange and regroup numbers to at least tens of thousands to assist calculations and solve

problems (ACMNA073) (ACARA, 2013).

Method

The process of the investigation was a combination of what Baturo & Cooper (2008, p.2)

refer to as “scan” and “probe” type assessment. The student was presented with questions

that were structured in such a way with the aim of determining their thinking processes in

relation to the specific domain of whole number with the related discipline of place value

(Baturo & Cooper, 2008). These questions were offered in a one-to-one interview process,

allowing the researcher to gain a deeper insight into the students’ strengths and

EDMA262

Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

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misconceptions of the chosen mathematical concept (Baturo & Cooper, 2008). This research

paper will analyse the results found accordingly.

Research

Research literature denotes the importance of understanding place value within the number

system with explicit reference to foundational understandings of whole numbers as a

fundamental platform for mathematical numeration processes that apply to everyday

activities and functioning (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, 2011; Baturo, 2002;

Cooper & Tomayko, 2011; Jones, Thornton, Putt, Hill, Mogill, Rich & Van Zoest, 1996).

The Multi-digit Number-Sense Framework (1994) outlines four key constructs that work

reciprocally with five distinct levels of thinking about place value (Jones et. al., 1996).

Counting, partitioning, grouping and number relationships constitutes as the four key

constructs within the framework (Jones et. al., 1996). The five levels of thinking move

between and through pre-place value (level 1), initial place value (level 2), developing place

value (level 3), extended place value (level 4) culminating at essential place value (level 5)

(Jones et. al., 1996). More recently, Baturo’s Numeration Model (2000) categorizes place

value thinking into three levels (Baturo, 2000). Level 1 is referred to as “baseline knowledge”

(Baturo, 2000, p101). It incorporates knowledge of position, base and order (Baturo, 2000).

Level 2 can be thought of as “linking knowledge” (Baturo, 2000, p.101) and involves

understandings about unitising and equivalence (Baturo, 2000). Finally, Level 3 which

Baturo (2000, p.101) has labelled “structural knowledge” encompasses additive structure,

reunitising and multiplicative structure (Baturo, 2000). It is within these complex cognitive

structures that students experience common misconceptions (AMSI, 2011; Baturo, 2002;

Boulton-Lewis & Halford, 1992; Jones et. al, 1996; Kamii, 1986).

Multiple research has resulted in substantiation of misconceptions experienced by students

when learning the complexities of place value (AMSI, 2011; Baturo, 2002; Boulton-Lewis &

Halford, 1992; Jones et. al, 1996; Kamii, 1986).

Such complexities are highlighted by key researches such as Baturo (1998, 2000, 2002);

Boulton-Lewis and Haldford (1992); Jones et. al. (1996) and Kamii, (1986) with particular

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reference to difficulties in understanding the bi-directionality of value in base 10 including

the additive and multiplicative nature within and across places, not considering zero as a

value, equivalence including unitising and finally difficulties with re-unitising processes.

Interview Analysis

Analysis of the diagnostic interview shows evidence of the student’s cognitive processes in

correlation to Baturo’s (2000) Numeration Model as well as Jones et. al. (1996) Multi-digit Number-

sense Framework and highlights some of the difficulties discussed previously that students often

experience when working with place value concepts (AMSI, 2011; Baturo, 2002; Boulton-Lewis

& Halford, 1992; Jones et. al, 1996; Kamii, 1986).

Question 1 invites the student to identify a number and translate the word into its symbolic

representation and correspondingly Question 2 asks the student to translate the numeric symbol into

word form (Baturo & Cooper, 2008). These questions are reflective of Baturo’s (2000) Level 1

thinking and provided the opportunity for the student to demonstrate their baseline knowledge

(Baturo, 2000). The student was mostly successful however, in Question 1(d) the student failed to

recognise the place value of the three and a result, misplaced it in the tens position instead of the

hundreds (Baturo & Cooper, 2008; Cooper & Tomayko, 2011) (Appendix A).

Question 3 challenges the students understanding of the semantic structure of ordering numbers

relevant to their place value (Baturo, 2000). This activity can be categorised into Baturo’s (2000)

Level 1of thinking as it personifies the understandings of position and order (Baturo, 2000)(Appendix

A).

The student demonstrated knowledge of zeros cardinality as well as its positional value as a place

holder in Question 4 (AMSI, 2011; Baturo, 2000; Baturo & Cooper, 2008). This was exemplified

when the researcher first asked the student “How has the value changed in Question 4 (a)?” the

student replied “zero would just be taken off leaving 542” and again the researcher asked “How has

the value changed in Question 4 (b)?” and the student replied “it’s changed to thousands with the zero

in the hundreds” (Appendix A). For Question 5 the student was successful in seriating more than the

given numbers increasing amounts by 10 and 100 however, found it difficult decreasing the given

numbers by 10 and 100 (Appendix A). As a result, the students initial response was “It can’t be

changed” before quickly self-correcting writing an increased value of 5010 (Appendix A). The

researcher offered some assistance as a result of the student’s frustrations asking if they could perhaps

think of a strategy to assist in their thinking. The student attempted to implement a number line and

was almost successful in finding the solution however, instead of counting backwards by 1 at the tenth

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step she jumped back by 10 resulting in an incorrect number (Appendix A.). These results, show that

the student is operating within the Level 4 and Level 5 counting constructs of the Multi-digit Number-

sense Framework (1996) however, has not completely met all criteria (Jones et. al., 1996). The

student was unsuccessful in determining the digits that were less than the position and order of the

number given, Baturo (2000) refers to this as “Counting A” (p. 98). Sowder (as cited in Jones et.al,

1996) “emphasized that an understanding of number relationships (e.g, less than, more than) is basic

to number sense” (p. 312). Question 6 involved counting type B sequences in which the student was

required to determine the pattern for all sequences and reunitise the values for (b) and (d) (Baturo,

2000)(Appendix A). She did not in effect, complete this showing signs of difficulty in the super

unitising of thousands and sub unitising of hundreds (Baturo, 2000)(Appendix A).

Question 10 of the diagnostic assessment task is designed for students to demonstrate their ability and

understanding of equivalence and partitioning (Baturo & Cooper, 2008). This activity falls within the

Level 2 area of place value, linking knowledge and is signified by Baturo (2000) as a necessity in

order for students to advance into the third level of structural knowledge within the Numeration

Model (Baturo, 2000). The results showed that the student had some understanding of equivalence

however, found it difficult to process the value of (d) had not changed despite the numbers being

rearranged in terms of their place value (Baturo & Cooper, 2008; Baturo; 2000) (Appendix A). Baturo

and Cooper (2008) label this numeration process “regrouping” (p.12). This provides insight into the

operations and cognitive thinking of students within Level 2 and 3 of Baturo’s Numeracy Model

(2000) working interchangeably (Appendix A). During this exercise the student was provided with

MAB blocks which she set out with the correct number values. The researcher prompted her about

her thinking by asking “So what has happened to the hundreds value?” the student replied “It has

changed by one I mean one hundred” to which the researcher continued with “Where do you think the

one hundred could be?” the student answered with “In the ones place” the researcher then asked “So

what value should be in the tens place?” and the student replied with “This is wrong because there is a

five in the hundreds place not a four” followed by a request to move on (Appendix A). This

demonstration allowed the researcher to see the student’s misconceptions in her understanding of

equivalence and regrouping (Baturo & Cooper, 2008; Baturo, 2000). Consequently, the identification

of this area of difficulty lead to the planned implementation of a follow up activity to improve and

extend on the student’s conceptual understandings of Baturo’s (2000) Level 2 and 3 numeration

processes explicitly linked to equivalence.

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Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

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The Activity

In summary of the results of the diagnostic assessment task it is apparent that although the student has

a sound understanding of place value baseline knowledge, she is operating between a Level 1 and

Level 2 arena of Baturo’s Numeration Model (2000). Her understandings of equivalence, partitioning

and bi-directionality are underdeveloped and based on Baturo’s research and theory in order to

advance through the cognitive levels of thinking a student must have obtained a full understanding of

all previous processes (Baturo, 2000, 2002; Baturo & Cooper, 1998, 2008). Baturo (2000) states

“Equivalence and unitising (Level 2 linking knowledge) are shown as emerging from the notion of

base. These cognitions are dynamic in that one object is transformed to another through some

operation.” (p.102). She adds “Reunitising, additive structure and multiplicative structure (Level 3

structural knowledge) emerge from an amalgamation of Level 1 and Level 2 knowledge”. (Baturo,

2000, p. 102). In order to advance the students thinking, revisiting earlier concepts with regards to the

continuous and bi-directionality of the relationships between places would be highly beneficial

(Baturo, 2000, 2002; Baturo & Cooper, 1998). This can be achieved through re-introducing

manipulatives such as MAB blocks including place value mats and linking it with the appropriate use

of language (AMSI, 2011; Baturo, 2000, 2002; Baturo & Cooper, 1998; Boulton- Lewis & Halford,

1992; Van de Walle, Karp & Bay-Williams, 2013).

The following activity is a recommendation adapted from the research of Baturo & Cooper (1998),

Baturo (2000, 2002) and is supportive of current mathematical teaching practice noted by Van de

Walle et. al.(2013) alongside of AMSI (2011) and Baturo and Coopers (2008) research into the

cognitive processes of students in whole number within the Developing mathematics

understanding through cognitive diagnostic assessment tasks (2008).

EDMA262

Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

Tutorial Friday 10-12pm

Year Level: Year 4

Prior Knowledge:

1. Recognise, model, represent and order numbers to at least 10 000 (ACMNA052)

2. Apply place value to partition, rearrange and regroup numbers to at least 10 000 to assist

calculations and solve problems (ACMNA053)

3. Recognise and explain the connection between addition and subtraction (ACMNA054)

4. Recall addition facts for single-digit numbers and related subtraction facts to develop

increasingly efficient mental strategies for computation(ACMNA055)

5. Recall multiplication facts of two, three, five and ten and related division facts (ACMNA056)

6. Represent and solve problems involving multiplication using efficient mental and written

strategies and appropriate digital technologies(ACMNA057)

I ntended Outcomes:

Consolidate relationships between numbers in place value (bi-directionality) using base 10.

(Baturo & Cooper, 1998)

Develop multiplicative and partitioning knowledge (x / :-) (Baturo & Cooper, 1998).

Develop mental computation strategies for multiplication and division (Baturo & Cooper,

1998).

Necessary materials:

MAB blocks including thousands, hundreds, tens and ones

Place value mats

Assortment of symbolic numbers to create numbers in the thousands (0-9)

Calculators

How to use these activities:

Provide students with place value mats and MAB blocks. Draw a place value chart on the

whiteboard.

EDMA262

Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

Tutorial Friday 10-12pm

1. Using the 0-9 numerals place a number in the ones column and instruct students to recreate

amount using their MAB blocks.

2. Move the numeral to the left of the ones place shifting its position into the tens place value

column and ask students to do the same using their MAB blocks. Follow this by asking students

“has the value become larger or smaller?” “How much has the number increased by?” ask

them to represent the increase using their calculators.

3. Consolidate the increase of value in the left wards direction repeating the same process with

different numbers allowing students to see the increase (x10).

4. Ask students to predict what would happen if we moved the numeral to the right shifting places

from the tens column into the ones.

5. Move numeral and ask students to move their materials to the right. Discuss the change and

ask students questions such as “How much has the number decreased by?” Ask them to use

their calculator to represent this decrease in value.

6. Consolidate the inverse operation between left and right by repeating process a few times so

that students can see the bi-directionality of increase to the left by (x10) and decrease to the

right by (:-10).

7. Repeat this process for (x100/ :-100) and (x1000/ :-1000). Some further questions could be

“What will undo multiplication?” or “How has your value become larger or smaller between

this place and that place?” (Adapted from Baturo& Cooper, 1998).

Curriculum Link:

NUMBER AND ALGEBRA

1. Recognise, represent and order numbers to at least tens of thousands (ACMNA072)

2. Apply place value to partition, rearrange and regroup numbers to at least tens of thousands to

assist calculations and solve problems (ACMNA073)

3. Recall multiplication facts up to 10 × 10 and related division facts (ACMNA075)

4. Develop efficient mental and written strategies and use appropriate digital technologies for

multiplication and for division where there is no remainder (ACMNA076)

EDMA262

Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

Tutorial Friday 10-12pm

References

ACARA (2013). Year 4. Australian curriculum: Mathematics. Retrieved from:

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Mathematics/Curriculum/F-10#level=4

Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (2011). Counting and place value: a guide for

teachers years F-4 number and algebra module 1. The improving mathematics

education in schools (TIMES) project. Retrieved from:

http://www.amsi.org.au/teacher_modules/Counting_and_place_valueK-4.html

Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (2011). Using place value to write numbers: a

guide for teachers years 4-7 number and algebra module 5. The improving

mathematics education in schools (TIMES) project. Retrieved from:

http://www.amsi.org.au/teacher_modules/Using_place_value4-7.html

Baturo, A. (2000). Construction of a numeration model: a theoretical analysis. In J. Bana &

A. Chapman, Mathematics education beyond 2000: Proceedings of the twenty-third

annual conference of the mathematics education research group of australasia

incorporated, (1), 95-103.

Baturo, A. (2002). Number sense, place value and “odometer” principle in decimal

numeration: adding 1 tenth and 1 hundredth. In A. Cockburn & E. Nardi (Eds.),

Proceedings 26

th

annual conference of the international group of psychology of

mathematics education (2), 65-72. Retrieved from:

http://eprints.qut.edu.au/3618/1/3618.pdf

Baturo, A. & Cooper, T. (1998). Construction of mulitplictive abstract schema for decimal-

number numeration. In: Proceeding of the 23

rd

conference of the international group

for the psychology of mathematics education, 25-30 July 1999, Haifa. Retrieved from:

http://eprints.qut.edu.au/31380/1/c31380.pdf

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Mathematics Teaching and Learning #1

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Boulton-Lewis, G & Halford, G. (1992). The processing loads of young children’s and teachers’

representations of place value and implications for teaching. Mathematics education research

journal, 4(1), 1-23.

Cooper, L., & Tomayko, M. (2011). Understanding place value. Teaching children

mathematics, 17(9), 558-567.

Jones, G., Thornton, C., Putt, I., Hill, K., Mogill, A., Rich, B., & Van Zoest, L. (1996).

Multidigit number sense: a framework for instruction and assessment. Journal for

research in mathematics education, 27(3), 310-336.

Kamii, C. (1986). Place value: an explanation of its difficulty and educational implications

for the primary grades. Journal of research in childhood education, 1 (2), 75-86.

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