FACTORS AND MULTIPLES: IMPORTANT AND MISUNDERSTOOD
Factors and multiples are important aspects of mathematical structure that support the understanding of a range of other ideas including multiplication and division, and later on, factorization. At primary school level, it is important that factors and multiples are taught as a connected enterprise and as vital parts of the multiplicative situation; that is multiplication and division. The primary objective of the study on which this paper is based was to determine the extent of children’s understanding of factors and multiples. A written quiz containing questions about factors and multiples and asking for children to explain their responses, was administered. Results suggest that the language involved with factors and multiples may play a role in the extent to which children develop a conceptual understanding of them. Also, most children know some things about factors and multiples but struggled to connect and articulate ideas when factors and multiples were presented in a different context. In conclusion, the inconsistency of participant responses suggests that teaching about factors and multiples needs to emanate from a more conceptual and connected standpoint.
Keywords: Factors, multiples, language, divisibility, connections.
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