The use of rational number reasoning in area comparison tasks by elementary and junior high school students.
AuthorArmstrong, Barbara Ellen.
KeywordsMathematics -- Study and teaching.
Numbers, Rational -- Study and teaching.
Reasoning in children.
AdvisorLarson, Carol Novillis
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this study was to determine whether fourth-, sixth-, and eighth-grade students used rational number reasoning to solve comparison of area tasks, and whether the tendency to use such reasoning increased with grade level. The areas to be compared were not similar and therefore, could not directly be compared in a straightforward manner. The most viable solution involved comparing the part-whole relationships inherent in the tasks. Rational numbers in the form of fractional terms could be used to express the part-whole relationships. The use of fractional terms provided a means for students to express the areas to be compared in an abstract manner and thus free themselves from the perceptual aspects of the tasks. The study examined how students solve unique problems in a familiar context where rational number knowledge could be applied. It also noted the effect of introducing fraction symbols into the tasks after students had indicated how they would solve the problems without any reference to fractions. Data were gathered through individual task-based interviews which consisted of 21 tasks, conducted with 36 elementary and junior high school students (12 students each in the fourth, sixth, and eighth grades). Each interview was video and audio taped to provide a record of the students' behavioral and verbal responses. The student responses were analyzed to determine the strategies the students used to solve the comparison of area tasks. The student responses were classified into 11 categories of strategies. There were four Part-Whole Categories, one Part-Whole/Direct Comparison Combination category and six Direct Comparison categories. The results of the study indicate that the development of rational number instruction should include: learning sequences which take students beyond the learning of a set of fraction concepts and skills, attention to the interaction of learning and the visual aspects of instructional models, and the careful inclusion of different types of fractions and other rational number task variables. This study supports the current national developments in curriculum and evaluation standards for mathematics instruction which stress the ability of students to problem solve, communicate, and reason.
Degree ProgramTeaching and Teacher Education