Mental computation: Is it more than mental architecture?

Heirdsfield, Ann M. (2000) Mental computation: Is it more than mental architecture? In Australian Association for Research in Education, December, 2000, Sydney.


Literature at national and international levels argues the importance of including mental computation in a mathematics curriculum that promotes number sense. However, mental computation does not feature in importance in the current Queensland mathematics syllabus documents. Hopefully, with the writing of a new mathematics syllabus, mental computation will feature with more prominence. It has been posited that when children are encouraged to formulate their own mental computation strategies, they learn how numbers work, gain a richer experience in dealing with numbers, and develop number sense. In the literature, a wide variety of addition and subtraction mental strategies has been identified and characteristics of good mental computers have been documented. These findings are useful to inform teachers of children's thinking, and help them better understand children's explanations. However, little research has attempted to explain why or how children develop these strategies and why some children are proficient. Thus, the intention of present study was to go beyond reporting the existing situation in schools to investigating, in depth, associated factors, and to develop a comprehensive model for mental computation. This paper reports a study of Year 3 children's addition and subtraction mental computation abilities, and the complexity of interaction of cognitive, metacognitive, and affective factors that supported and diminished their ability to compute efficiently. As well, the part memory plays in mental computation was investigated. Finally, some implications for teaching are discussed.

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ID Code: 1432
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: mathematics education, mental computation, addition, subtraction
ISSN: 1324-9339
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2000 Australian Association for Research in Education
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 27 May 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:25

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