Assessment of Year Five Pupil’s Number Sense

Main Article Content

Piriya Somasundram


Algebra has been a major stumbling block for many middle and higher secondary school students. Vast research has shown that the abrupt introduction of algebra in middle school causes students to fail to connect the relationships between arithmetic learned in primary school and formal algebra in middle school. Thus, algebraic thinking is necessary for the transition from arithmetic to algebra. One of the elements of algebraic thinking is number sense. It allows students to make sense of numbers and operations rather than focusing solely on numeric calculation. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the number sense of year five pupils in one of the states of Malaysia. Quantitative analysis was performed on the performance levels of 720 year five students in five number sense tasks. The majority of the students didn’t demonstrate number sense. They solved the tasks based on rules, which showed the effect of computation-centric learning. Nevertheless, there is no correlation between the ability to work with number sense and their mathematics achievement. This indicates that the ability to think algebraically does not correlate with achievement in school mathematics examinations. It could be interpreted that high achievers in school tests don’t acquire a conceptual understanding of number sense. This sheds some light on how high achievers in primary school mathematics could result from rote learning and drilling, leading to a struggle in algebra. It is time to revisit the teaching of arithmetic in primary schools to develop conceptual understanding and sense-making of numbers to excel in algebra in later years of education.

Article Details