Addition of Positive and Negative Integers

For my last project in  this master program, I would like to design a learning activity about addition of positive and negative integers. I concern on  this problem because based on several interviews that I have done right exactly before leaving Indonesia, some teachers stated that their students faced serious problem with it. Why does it happen? and  how will my design would be? Well, this post will be my first series of development that would be happen during the study for my thesis. Check this out.

Why this topic is interesting for me?!

In general, problems that always found in Indonesia are lack of context. Most students in Indonesia get used to work in abstract level, thus they experience learning mathematics as a set of formula rather than problem that is applicable in daily life or a problem that always found in daily life.

As a matter of fact, I would like to show a part of a chapter of Electronic Students’ Textbook used for students in 4 grades (9-10 years old) of primary school (page 143-148). Here I attached the file in the PDF, to be able to download the file, you can click on this. Since the textbook is in Bahasa Indonesia, thus I made the translation by giving the comment right on the sentence. To be able to see the translation, you should open it in Foxit Reader program.

The problems given in this book does not give opportunity to students to elaborate their thinking and build their own understanding how to add positive and negative integers. There is also no certain emphasize how students should add the negative integer with the negative integers. In my opinion, the idea of using arrow diagram and number line is acceptable, however, the process become too abstract when students deal with the integers bigger than 20.

This problem does not really support students to have a better understanding when they are dealing with addition of positive and negative integers.


There are several researches have been done related to this topic. One of the shocked result shows that 60 % of students in fourth grade of SD Negeri (elementary school) of Tanjungsari Banyudono Boyolali have difficulty in doing addition of positive and negative integers. Thus, in the same time, it makes me wonder what is exactly the problem faced by the students. Furthermore, in my perspective, it is really interesting to find the causes and the solution for this problem. This topic is also the topic that I am going to focus on my research project for my thesis.


Arihandayani, E. (2010). Peningkatan Kemampuan Menjumlah Bilangan Bulat Menggunakan Alat Peraga Garis Bilangan Pada Siswa Kelas IV SD Negeri Tanjungsar Banyodono Boyolali Tahun Ajaran 2009/2010. Universitas Sebelas Maret. Surakarta.


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