Tracking informal fraction knowledge and its correlates across first grade.

Alexandria Viegut, Ilyse Resnick, Dana Miller-Cotto, Nora Newcombe, Nancy Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young children have informal knowledge of fractions before learning about fraction symbols in school. In the current study, we followed 103 children in the Mid-Atlantic United States from the fall to the spring of first grade to characterize the development of individual differences in early informal fraction knowledge, as well as its relation to other mathematical and cognitive skills. Most children in our sample showed some early fraction knowledge at the beginning of first grade, especially with nonsymbolic fractions and halving, and this knowledge improved over the school year without explicit instruction in fractions. However, there were large individual differences in early fraction knowledge at the start of first grade, which explained significant variance in math achievement at the end of first grade, even when controlling for whole number knowledge and a variety of cognitive skills. Start-of-year whole number knowledge, but not spatial scaling or proportional reasoning, also predicted early end-of-year fraction knowledge. These data can inform activities for learning in the early years to foster both early fraction and integer knowledge in parallel, which may better prepare students for later formal instruction in fractions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1739-1756
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number10
Early online date1 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


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