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ERIC Number: EJ890478
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0228-0671
Ambiguity in Units and the Referents: Two Cases in Rational Number Operations
Rathouz, Margaret
For the Learning of Mathematics, v30 n1 p43-51 2010
I explore the impact of ambiguous referral to the unit on understanding of decimal and fraction operations during episodes in two different mathematics courses for pre-service teachers (PSTs). In one classroom, the instructor introduces a rectangular area diagram to help the PSTs visualize decimal multiplication. A transcript from this classroom exposes ambiguities in language that may hinder the ability of PSTs to track the elusive unit in this multiplicative situation. Placing the computation in a context is suggested as a remedy to help students resolve these ambiguities. The instructor for a second course intentionally introduces a task with some built-in ambiguities as a mechanism to catalyze student reasoning through discussion and debate. In a segment presented from this classroom, PSTs struggle with the changing nature of the unit as they create story problems for fraction operations. The impact of students' own language and pictorial representations is discussed as it relates to ability to track the unit during fraction operations.
FLM Publishing Association. 382 Education South, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G5, Canada; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A