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Developmental and individual differences in understanding of fractions.

journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2013 by Robert Siegler, Aryn Pyke

We examined developmental and individual differences in 6th and 8th graders' fraction arithmetic and overall mathematics achievement and related them to differences in understanding of fraction magnitudes, whole number division, executive functioning, and metacognitive judgments within a cross-sectional design. Results indicated that the difference between low achieving and higher achieving children's fraction arithmetic knowledge, already substantial in 6th grade, was much greater in 8th grade. The fraction arithmetic knowledge of low achieving children was similar in the 2 grades, whereas higher achieving children showed much greater knowledge in 8th than 6th grade, despite both groups having been in the same classrooms, using the same textbooks, and having the same teachers and classmates. Individual differences in both fraction arithmetic and mathematics achievement test scores were predicted by differences in fraction magnitude knowledge and whole number division, even after the contributions of reading achievement and executive functioning were statistically controlled. Instructional implications of the findings are discussed.