Six fifth-grade children participated in a four-day teaching experiment on complex additively-structured problems, which was followed by in-depth interviews of individual children. The teaching experiment was meant to investigate children's difficulties in holding in mind at once situations in which one or more items played multiple roles. Two important difficulties were identified: (1) distinguishing between "difference" as the result of subtracting and "difference" as the amount by which one quantity exceeded another; and (2) indirect evaluation of an additive comparison. Sources of these difficulties, along with pedagogical and curricular recommendations for addressing them, are discussed.
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