ERIC Number: EJ1179105
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jun
Abstractor: As Provided
Which Type of Rational Numbers Should Students Learn First?
Tian, Jing; Siegler, Robert S.
Educational Psychology Review, v30 n2 p351-372 Jun 2018
Many children and adults have difficulty gaining a comprehensive understanding of rational numbers. Although fractions are taught before decimals and percentages in many countries, including the USA, a number of researchers have argued that decimals are easier to learn than fractions and therefore teaching them first might mitigate children's difficulty with rational numbers in general. We evaluate this proposal by discussing evidence regarding whether decimals are in fact easier to understand than fractions and whether teaching decimals before fractions leads to superior learning. Our review indicates that decimals are not generally easier to understand than fractions, though they are easier on some tasks. Learners have similar difficulty in understanding fraction and decimal magnitudes, arithmetic, and density, as well as with converting from either notation to the other. There was too little research on knowledge of percentages to include them in the comparisons or to establish the ideal order of instruction of the three types of rational numbers. Although existing research is insufficient to determine the best sequence for teaching the three rational number formats, we recommend several types of research that could help in addressing the issue in the future. [For the corresponding grantee submission, see ED574837.]
Descriptors: Mathematics Instruction, Numbers, Numeracy, Fractions, Arithmetic, Difficulty Level, Mathematical Concepts, Elementary Secondary Education, Teaching Methods
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