Re-thinking place value: from metaphor to metonym

Alf Coles, Nathalie Sinclair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

261 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we question what is an appropriate balance of ordinal and cardinal work in the early learning of number. We see an over-emphasis, in current research and practice, on the cardinal that leads, for example, to only using small numbers. We report on empirical work we have carried out in the UK and Canada that suggests the potential for re-balancing attention to the ordinal, alongside the cardinal. We point to the potential of two relatively novel technologies that allow access to ordinal and symbolic ways of working with number: a multi-touch applet (TouchCounts) and a 'tens chart' that is a structured representation of our numeral system that contrasts with the more typically used 100 chart.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-8
Number of pages6
JournalFor the Learning of Mathematics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • place value
  • ordinality
  • early number

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Re-thinking place value: from metaphor to metonym'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this