
06262077
j
2014b.00420
Wood, Marcy B.
Olson, Amy M.
Freiberg, Elizabeth J.
Vega, Ruby I.
Fractions as subtraction: an activityoriented perspective from elementary children.
Sch. Sci. Math. 113, No. 8, 390399 (2013).
2013
Wiley (WileyBlackwell), Hoboken, NJ; School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA), Stillwater, OK
EN
F42
F43
fractions
subtraction
operations
children's understanding
mathematical activity
realworld context
doi:10.1111/ssm.12040
Summary: A sample of third, fourth, and fifthgrade 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 partwhole 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.