Fractions: A Weeping Sore in Mathematics Education

Year: 1992

Author: Ellerton, Nerida, Clements, M. A. (Ken)

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Data is cited from recent studies in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia showing that most primary school children do not link what they learn about fractions in mathematics classrooms with situations involving fractional quantities in their personal worlds. For example, many children who correctly answered pencil-and-paper fraction questions such as 5/11 x 792 = q could not pour out one-third of a glass of water, and of those who could, only a small proportion had any idea of what fraction of the original full glass of water remained. A theoretical model aimed at achieving links between children's personal worlds and the verbal and symbolic language of fractions is proposed.