Fraction development in children: Importance of building numerical magnitude understanding

Nancy C. Jordan, Jessica Rodrigues, Nicole Hansen, Ilyse RESNICK

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


This chapter has several aims. First, we situate fraction learning within the integrated theory of numerical development, proposed by Siegler, Thompson, and Schneider (2011). The integrated theory asserts that the unifying property of all real numbers is that they have magnitudes or numerical values that can be ordered on the number line. Next, we identify key areas of fraction knowledge and then chart fraction development from early childhood through middle school. In particular, we discuss research findings from our large longitudinal study of fraction learning from third through sixth grade, supported by the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. The four-year study identified domain-general and domain-specific predictors and concomitants of fraction learning. Overall, we show that fraction development during this formal instructional period is fundamental to mathematics success more generally. Finally, we discuss implications for helping students who struggle with fractions, especially with respect to building numerical magnitude understandings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMathematical Cognition and Learning series
Subtitle of host publicationAcquisition of Complex Arithmetic Skills and Higher-order Mathematics Concepts
EditorsDavid C. Geary, Daniel B. Berch, Robert J. Ochsendorf, Kathleen Mann Koepke
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherAcademic Press, Elsevier Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780128050866
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAcquisition of Complex Arithmetic Skills and Higher-Order Mathematics Concepts


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