Teaching Place Value at Primary School


The number and number operations concept is the major learning area in mathematics at primary level. However the learners’ ability to operationalise addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of multiple digit numbers is dependent on their ability to place the numbers in their right "values of the place." The multiple digit numbers are represented in the base 10 system and learners that grapple with the concept of Place value fail to adjust to the core requirements of elementary mathematics. This article is part of a longitudinal study on teaching elementary mathematics and it involved five teachers and a class of 34 learners. The teachers were each required to explain the concept of place value, according to their understanding, as well as to develop one lesson to teach multiplication and division of numbers using the concept of place value. The research revealed that, while primary school teachers might be able to multiply and divide multiple digit numbers, their ability to explain learners’ errors and misconceptions that emanate from their instructions needs to be a focal point in mathematics teacher education curricula. The teachers explained that the teacher education programmes did not equip them with the skills of error diagnosis and what is involved in instructions that address misconceptions that emanate from multiplication and division of multiple digit number.


Place Value, Multiplication, Errors and Misconceptions


Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Prof. Kakoma Luneta
    • Senior Lecturer, Childhood Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa South Africa
    • I am the head of the Department of Childhood Education and a senior lecturer in mathematics education. I teach foundation phase mathematics courses and research methods in mathematics education at undergraduate and honor. I supervise masters and doctoral students. My areas of interest are on research in mathematics teaching, instructional approaches that enhance effective teaching of mathematics at elementery level as well as mathematics teacher training and mentorship.