Development of fraction number line estimation was assessed longitudinally over 5 time points between 4th and 6th grades. Although students showed positive linear growth overall, latent class growth analyses revealed 3 distinct growth trajectory classes: Students who were highly accurate from the start and became even more accurate (n = 154); students who started inaccurate but showed steep growth (n = 121); and students who started inaccurate and showed minimal growth (n = 197). Younger and minimal growth students typically estimated both proper and improper fractions as being less than 1, failing to base estimates on the relation between the numerator and denominator. Class membership was highly predictive of performance on a statewide-standardized mathematics test as well as on a general fraction knowledge measure at the end of 6th grade, even after controlling for mathematic-specific abilities, domain-general cognitive abilities, and demographic variables. Multiplication fluency, classroom attention, and whole number line estimation acuity at the start of the study predicted class membership. The findings reveal that fraction magnitude understanding is central to mathematical development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies