This study investigates elementary school children’s flexible use of mental calculation strategies on additions and subtractions in the number domain 20–100. Sixty third-graders of three different mathematical achievement levels individually solved a series of 2-digit additions and subtractions in one choice and two no-choice conditions. In the choice condition, children could choose between the compensation (56 + 29 = ?; 56 + 30 = 86, 86 − 1 = 85) and jump strategy (56 + 29 = ?; 56 + 20 = 76, 76 + 9 = 85) on each item. In the two no-choice conditions, children had to solve each item with either the compensation or the jump strategy. The results demonstrated that children of all achievement levels spontaneously applied both the compensation and the jump strategy to solve the items from the choice condition. Furthermore, they all executed the compensation strategy equally accurately, but faster than the jump strategy in the no-choice conditions. Finally, children neither took into account the expected task nor individual strategy efficiency characteristics during the strategy choice process. Results are discussed in terms of recent models of adaptive strategy choices and instructional practices in the number domain 20–100.
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