ERIC Number: EJ1026521
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Fractions as Subtraction: An Activity-Oriented Perspective from Elementary Children
Wood, Marcy B.; Olson, Amy M.; Freiberg, Elizabeth J.; Vega, Ruby I.
School Science and Mathematics, v113 n8 p390-399 Dec 2013
A sample of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade student responses to the question "What is a fraction?" were examined to gain an understanding of how children in upper elementary grades make sense of fractions. Rather than measure children's understanding of fractions relative to mathematically conventional part-whole constructions of fractions, we attempted to understand children's actions and processes. A small but nontrivial group of children used subtraction (takeaway and removal) as a framework for understanding how fractions were created and written. An analysis of the content of their responses as well as a comparison of the performance of these children with that of children who used other ways of describing fractions suggests that the use of subtraction may be a reasonable (or at least not harmful) way for children to begin to access concepts related to fractions. Also, this study suggests that attention to children's understanding through the lens of children's activity might reveal ways of thinking and insights that are masked when we compare children's thinking in more structured research settings.
Descriptors: Elementary School Mathematics, Elementary School Students, Mathematics Instruction, Mathematical Concepts, Subtraction, Content Analysis, Comparative Analysis, Concept Formation, Teaching Methods
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 3; Grade 4; Grade 5
Authoring Institution: N/A