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Summary of Reference

Mulligan, Joanne T and Mitchelmore, Michael C

Young Children’s Intuitive Models of Multiplication and Division

Bibliographic data:
Mulligan, J. T. and Michelmore, M. C. (1997). Young children’s intuitive models of multiplication and division. Journal for Research in Mathematical Education, 28 (3), 309-330.

This is a longitudinal study of a group of girls in grades two and three as they were given the same set of 24 word problems. Twelve distinct strategies for solving them were observed. The three main intuitive models were: direct counting; repeated addition and multiplicative operation. A fourth model, repeated subtraction, occurred only in division problems.

The research extends previous work on young children’s intuitive models by widening the range of semantic structures included and by including the effect of maturation.

The study raises several questions about traditional approaches to teaching multiplication and division of whole numbers relating to the role of informal understanding in teaching and the order in which multiplication and division are introduced in the curriculum.