Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in ZDM Mathematics Education 43 (2011), pp 697–708.

doi 10.1007/s11858-011-0361-2


Copyright © 2011 FIZ Karlsruhe; published by Springer Verlag. Used by permission.


Learning to estimate a linear measurement is critical in becoming a successful measurer. Research indicates that the teaching of the estimation of linear measurement is quite open and that instruction does not make explicit to students how to carry out estimation work. Because written curriculum has been identified as one of the main sources affecting teachers’ instruction and students’ learning, this study examined how estimation of linear measurement tasks were presented to students in three US elementary mathematics curricula to see how much and in what ways these tasks were presented in an open manner. The principal result was that the length estimation tasks were frequently not explicit about which attribute of the object to measure and the requested level of precision of the estimate. Length estimation tasks were also left more open than other measurement tasks like measuring length with rulers.