Understanding the meaning of the equal sign (=) : a qualitative case study of grade 8 students' assigned meanings of the equal sign and how these assigned meanings affect their performance in solving equations
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- Institutt for lærerutdanning 
Many research about students` understanding of the equal sign record that most students view the equal symbol as a signal to carry out a computation instead of a symbol expressing mathematical equivalence. The purpose of this study was to find out the meanings Zambian Grade 8 students assign to the equal sign and how their assigned meanings of the equal sign affect their performance in solving equations. A test and individual interviews were used to collect data and the assigned meanings were compared across students as they used the equal sign in solving equations with the aim of correlating between understanding the equal sign as a symbol representing equivalence and success in solving equations. It was found that students who demonstrated an ability to recognize a relational meaning for the equal sign scored higher in solving equations. However, it was also found that some students who defined or articulated a relational meaning of the equal sign were not able to demonstrate an understanding of an appropriate use of the symbol.