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Variability in the natural number bias: who, when, how, and why. (English)
Learn. Instr. 37, 56-61 (2015).
Summary: When reasoning about rational numbers, people sometimes incorrectly apply principles or rules for natural numbers. Many factors affect whether participants display this natural number bias, including their age and experience, the affordances and constraints of the given task, and even the specific numbers in the given problem. In this paper, we argue that this variability can be conceptualized in terms of dynamic choices among problem-solving strategies. People’s strategy choices vary as a function of their repertoire of available strategies and as a function of the specifics of the tasks, problems, and context. Further, we argue that the specific profiles of variability in strategy use that are observed in different participant groups can be conceptualized in terms of the strength and precision of the representations of numbers and operations that people in those groups possess. In our view, the natural number bias arises when people’s representations of rational number magnitudes or rational number operations are not sufficiently strongly activated or sufficiently precise to guide performance on a specific task in a specific context. In these cases, participants’ more highly activated or more precise representations for natural numbers may underlie and guide their performance. This account suggests that contexts and experiences (including instructional experiences) that help build, strengthen, and activate rational number representations should lead to improvements in performance.
Classification: F40 D70
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