Our work on multiplicative thinking
We began our work on multiplicative thinking in late 2013. Since then, we have learned more than we thought possible about this important idea. Initially, we worked with small cohorts of primary school children in Perth, Western Australia, and used a one-on-one semi-structured interview to gather data. While this provided us with very rich information, it was time-consuming and by the end of 2014, we had developed our written instrument, the Multiplicative Thinking Quiz, which enabled us to gather data from class groups. The quiz has been modified and improved to its current form.
The findings from our research align with those from other research projects including SNMY (Scaffolding Numeracy in the Middle Years 2003-2006), Reframing Mathematical Futures (2013-2014), and Reframing Mathematical Futures 11 (2014-2017). In general, we found that very few children had a broad and connected understanding of multiplicative concepts and that this was likely to impede their progress in mathematics beyond elementary levels.
During the project, we worked with over 120 teachers and 2000 students from primary schools in Western Australia, Victoria, Dunedin (New Zealand) and Plymouth (United Kingdom). To enable us to provide assistance to teachers, we developed an extensive range of teaching tasks to follow up the analysis of data from the Multiplicative Thinking Quiz. The assessment instruments and teaching tasks are available on this website.
Here are some brief findings from aspects of our research with children and teachers as as indication of what we found.