Elementary students' understanding of fractions with dynamic technology
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This study examines students' mathematical strategies within a novel technological environment designed to support understanding of relationships between quantities and adjustable measuring units. In particular, 30 elementary students (grades 3-5) engaged in a series of fraction-as-measurement tasks to provide a cross-sectional snapshot of how they used a 'dynamic virtual ruler' that could be continuously dilated. Screencast recordings were collected from a task-based clinical interview and analyzed to investigate children's mathematical actions and mathematical ideas. Students' strategy patterns were characterized using four distinct types (Not Attending, Estimating, Determining, and Commeasuring) based on their solution strategies. In addition, I attended to their change of strategy types depending on the characteristics of the tasks (within the same task series, across task series). I also articulated possible mechanisms for changing strategies across the tasks from both instrumental and semiotic approaches. My findings provide theory-driven, empirically-tested set of tasks that can be used to introduce fractions is an alternative way in elementary mathematics classrooms, and eventually drawing insight for students to use dynamic technology meaningfully.
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