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Teaching mathematics
Teaching mathematics

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Understanding division problems

Many learners (and adults) have problems with division because they do not exactly understand what it means. A straightforward division can be ambiguous without the context of the problem. Learners need to understand the difference between sharing and grouping which are the two main types of division problem. For example:

  • 12 division three can mean there are 12 sweets shared between 3 people, so they each get 4 sweets.

  • 12 has been divided (or shared) into 3 equal parts of 4.

  • 12 ÷ 3 can mean that I have 12p, so how many 3p sweets can I buy? In this case, you can count up in threes to find how many sweets you can buy. You are counting up in groups of 3, (i.e. 3, 6, 9, 12). So there are four 3s in 12.