Construct a Sum: A Measure of Children's Understanding of Fraction Size

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  • 1 Northern lllinois University
  • 2 University of Minnesota

This report from the Rational Number Project concerns the development of a quantitative concept of rational number in fourth and fifth graders. In a timed task, children were required to select digits to form two rational numbers whose sum was as close to 1 as possible. Two versions of the task yielded three measures of the skill. The cognitive mechanisms used by high performers in individual interviews were characterized by a flexible and spontaneous application of concepts of rational number order and fraction equivalence and by the use of a reference point. Low performers tended either not to use such cognitive mechanisms or to apply concepts in a constrained or inaccurate manner.

Contributor Notes

Merlyn J. Behr, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Northern Illinois Universiry, DeKalb, IL 60115

Ipke Wachsmuth, Wissenschaftlicher Assistent, Fachbereich Mathematik, Universitat Osnabriick, Albrechtstrasse 28, D4500 Osnabriick, West Germany

Thomas R. Post, Professor of Mathematics Education, College of Education, 240 Peik Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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