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Preservice elementary school teachers’ knowledge of fractions: a mirror of students’ knowledge?

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This research analyses preservice teachers’ knowledge of fractions. Fractions are notoriously difficult for students to learn and for teachers to teach. Previous studies suggest that student learning of fractions may be limited by teacher understanding of fractions. If so, teacher education has a key role in solving the problem. We first reviewed literature regarding students’ knowledge of fractions. We did so because assessments of required content knowledge for teaching require review of the students’ understanding to determine the mathematics difficulties encountered by students. The preservice teachers were tested on their conceptual and procedural knowledge of fractions, and on their ability in explaining the rationale for a procedure or the conceptual meaning. The results revealed that preservice teachers’ knowledge of fractions indeed is limited and that last-year preservice teachers did not perform better than first-year preservice teachers. This research is situated within the broader domain of mathematical knowledge for teaching and suggests ways to improve instruction and student learning.
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Keywords: content knowledge; elementary school; fractions; teacher education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-01-02

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