Original Research

An error analysis in the early grades mathematics – a learning opportunity?

Roelien Herholdt, Ingrid Sapire
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 4, No 1 | a46 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v4i1.46 | © 2014 Roelien Herholdt, Ingrid Sapire | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2014 | Published: 01 July 2014

About the author(s)

Roelien Herholdt, JET Education Services, South Africa
Ingrid Sapire, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Full Text:

PDF (358KB)


Error analysis is the study of errors in learners’ work with a view to looking for possible explanations for these errors. It is a multifaceted activity involving analysis of correct, partially correct and incorrect processes and thinking about possible remediating strategies. This paper reports on such an analysis of learner tests. The tests were administered as part of the evaluation of an intervention project that aimed to teach mathematical problem solving skills to grade 1-4 learners. Quantitative error analysis was carried out using a coding sheet for each grade. A reliability coefficient was found for each test, as were item means and discrimination indexes for each item. The analysis provided some insight into the more common procedural and conceptual errors evidenced in the learners’ scripts. Findings showed similar difficulties across intervention and control schools and highlighted particular areas of difficulty. The authors argue that this analysis is an example of large-scale error analysis, but that the analysis method could be adopted by teachers of grades 1-4.


Mathematical error analysis, mathematical pedagogy, elementary school, foundation phase, assessment, mathematics


Total abstract views: 4647
Total article views: 1730


Crossref Citations

1. Achievement Error Differences of Students With Reading Versus Math Disorders
Maria Avitia, Emily DeBiase, Matthew Pagirsky, Melissa M. Root, Meiko Howell, Xingyu Pan, Tawnya Knupp, Xiaochen Liu
Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment  vol: 35  issue: 1-2  first page: 111  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1177/0734282916669209