Cross-notation knowledge of fractions and decimals


Understanding fractions and decimals requires not only understanding each notation separately, or within-notation knowledge, but also understanding relations between notations, or cross-notation knowledge. Multiple notations pose a challenge for learners but could also present an opportunity, in that cross-notation knowledge could help learners to achieve a better understanding of rational numbers than could easily be achieved from within-notation knowledge alone. This hypothesis was tested by reanalyzing three published datasets involving fourth- to eighth-grade children from the United States and Finland. All datasets included measures of rational number arithmetic, within-notation magnitude knowledge (e.g., accuracy in comparing fractions vs. fractions and decimals vs. decimals), and cross-notation magnitude knowledge (e.g., accuracy in comparing fractions vs. decimals). Consistent with the hypothesis, cross-notation magnitude knowledge predicted fraction and decimal arithmetic when controlling for within-notation magnitude knowledge. Furthermore, relations between within-notation magnitude knowledge and arithmetic were not notation specific; fraction magnitude knowledge did not predict fraction arithmetic more than decimal arithmetic, and decimal magnitude knowledge did not predict decimal arithmetic more than fraction arithmetic. Implications of the findings for assessing rational number knowledge and learning and teaching about rational numbers are discussed.

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Michelle Hurst
Michelle Hurst
Assistant Professor

My research interests include mathematical development and variations in performance across contexts.