Exploring students’ procedural flexibility in three countries
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2022

In this cross-national study, Spanish, Finnish, and Swedish middle and high school students’ procedural flexibility was examined, with the specific intent of determining whether and how students’ equation-solving accuracy and flexibility varied by country, age, and/or academic track. The 791 student participants were asked to solve twelve linear equations, provide multiple strategies for each equation, and select the best strategy from among their own strategies.

Our results indicate that knowledge and use of the standard algorithm for solving linear equations is quite widespread across students in all three countries, but that there exists substantial within-country variation as well as between-country variation in students’ reliance on standard vs. situationally appropriate strategies. In addition, we found correlations between equation-solving accuracy and students’ flexibility in all three countries but to different degrees.

Although it is increasingly recognized as an important construct of interest, there are many aspects of mathematical flexibility that are not well-understood. Particularly lacking in the literature on flexibility are studies that explore similarities and differences in students’ repertoire of strategies for solving algebra problems across countries with different educational systems and curricula. This study yielded important insights about flexibility and can push the field to explore the extent that within- and between-country differences in flexibility can be linked to differences in countries’ educational systems, teaching practices, and/or cultural norms around mathematics teaching and learning.


Procedural flexibility

Mathematics education

Equation solving


Jon Star

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dimitri Tuomela

Oulun Yliopisto

Nuria Joglar Prieto

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Peter Hästö

Oulun Yliopisto

Riikka Palkki

Oulun Yliopisto

Miguel Á. Abánades

Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

Johanna Pejlare

Chalmers, Matematiska vetenskaper, Algebra och geometri

R. H. Jiang

Beijing Normal University

Lijia Li

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Ru-De Liu

Beijing Normal University

International Journal of STEM Education

21967822 (eISSN)

Vol. 9 4 4



Annan matematik

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete



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