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ERIC Number: EJ1059506
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-May
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Prompting Children to Reason Proportionally: Processing Discrete Units as Continuous Amounts
Boyer, Ty W.; Levine, Susan C.
Developmental Psychology, v51 n5 p615-620 May 2015
Recent studies reveal that children can solve proportional reasoning problems presented with continuous amounts that enable intuitive strategies by around 6 years of age but have difficulties with problems presented with discrete units that tend to elicit explicit count-and-match strategies until at least 10 years of age. The current study tests whether performance on discrete unit problems might be improved by prompting intuitive reasoning with continuous-format problems. Participants were kindergarten, second-grade, and fourth-grade students (N = 194) assigned to either an experimental condition, where they were given continuous amount proportion problems before discrete unit proportion problems, or a control condition, where they were given all discrete unit problems. Results of a three-way mixed-model analysis of variance examining school grade, experimental condition, and block of trials indicated that fourth-grade students in the experimental condition outperformed those in the control condition on discrete unit problems in the second half of the experiment, but kindergarten and second-grade students did not differ by condition. This suggests that older children can be prompted to use intuitive strategies to reason proportionally.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Kindergarten; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education; Grade 2; Elementary Education; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: SBE-1041707|SBE-0541957|BCS-1348921