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Title: Exploring children's conceptions of zero
Author: Catterall, Rona
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2006
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The overall aim of this study was to explore children's conceptions of zero. To determine whether children have more problems understanding and using zero than other single digit numbers and, if so, to investigate why these problems might arise. The focus areas of this exploration were: (a) Zero as a number and its relationship to other numbers (b) The zero number facts (c) The empty set (d) The language of zero. Initial data was gained using questionnaire returns from 100 children, aged 10-11 years, in five UK primary schools. More detailed fieldwork was undertaken using task-interviews conducted with 136 children, aged 3 to 11, in one of these schools. The children's explanations for their answers, correct or not, and the analysis of their reasoning provided some unexpected results. With regard to the children involved in this research this study concludes that a child's conception of zero consists of a series of generally accepted notions such as zero being a number, zero being worth nothing and zero being found in the number order, next to one. These generally accepted notions are subject to diversity of thought and an individual child's diversity of thought did result in high profile consequences. These were the ignoring of zero; the formation of a personal zero rule(s); children's understanding of nothing as nothingness and the startling reaction of many young children (aged 3 to 5) to the empty set. The research highlights and contributes new knowledge to an, as-yet, uncharted area of investigation that of children's conceptions of zero. As a consequence the findings are discussed in terms of their implications to primary mathematics education.
Supervisor: Povey, Hilary ; Dall, Ian ; Sangster, Margaret Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available