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# 4. Common challenges for learners – the equals sign

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:30 by NZTecAdmin

The equals sign, =, also has different meanings in different situations. The most common meaning is in calculation.

When you carry out the calculation 7 x 4 = on a calculator, the equals sign means “works out to be”. This can be a problem for learners if this is the only view they have.

To work out a simple equation like 7 - q = 3, learners with a “works out to be” view of equals will struggle to deal with the unknown, q , being before anything is “worked out”.

In algebra, equals means “the same” or “balanced”. So in the equation 3x + 2 = y we are saying whatever values we give to x and y must maintain the rule that both sides of the equation are the same value and balance each other.