High school students’ conceptions of the minus sign

Lamb, Lisa
Bishop, Jessica
Schappelle, Bonnie
Philipp, Randy
Whitacre, Ian
Lewis, Mindy
Short Description: 
The minus sign is a mathematical symbol that is multi-functional. Yet, how often is its use explicit to the non-mathematician, or more importantly the learner, who is expected to interpret the symbolism appropriately, when often the "meaning" stems from context of its use. From the perspective of the learner, such nuances of use simply lead to confusion which has the potential for lifelong misconceptions within their personal mathematics. This commentary is based on working with children on their journey through mathematics, it provides insights into the complexity of mathematical communication for those "learning the language".