Mathematics teachers' reasoning about fractions and decimals using drawn representations

Soo Jin Lee, Rachael Eriksen Brown, Chandra Hawley Orrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This qualitative study considers middle grades mathematics teachers' reasoning about drawn representations of fractions and decimals. We analyzed teachers' strategies based on their response to multiple-choice tasks that required analysis of drawn representations. We found that teachers' flexibility with referent units played a significant role in understanding drawn representations with fractions and decimals. Teachers who could correctly identify or flexibly use the referent unit could better adapt their mathematical knowledge of fractions validating their choice, whereas teachers who did not attend to the referent unit demonstrated four problem-solving strategies for making sense of the tasks. These four approaches all proved to be limited in their generalizability, leading teachers to make incorrect assumptions about and choices on the tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-220
Number of pages23
JournalMathematical Thinking and Learning
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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