Diagnostic assessment in third-grade subtraction: the relation between bridging errors, number of errors and mathematical ability

Jorine A. Vermeulen*, Anton Béguin, Floor Scheltens, Theo J.H.M. Eggen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Learning to solve subtraction problems that require borrowing (e.g., 83–57=) is challenging, and these problems often cause ‘bridging’ errors, such as the smaller-from-larger error. This study explores how bridging errors in subtraction are related to students’ mathematical ability. The study involved 694 third-grade students and 35 teachers from 25 Dutch schools. Multilevel regression analyses showed that the number of bridging errors was positively related to the students’ mathematical ability, after controlling for the total number of errors in subtraction. Thus, the students who had a high proportion of bridging errors within the total number of errors had a relatively higher mathematical ability compared to the students who had a low proportion of bridging errors. This result implies that diagnosing bridging errors may help to identify where students’ stand within their mathematical development. The practical implications of this result for the design of diagnostic instruments are addressed in the discussion section.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-706
Number of pages20
JournalAssessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • decomposition strategy
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • formative assessment
  • primary school mathematics
  • subtraction
  • subtraction errors

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