An Analysis of Undergraduate Elementary School Pre-Service Teachers' Ability to Contextualize Fraction Expressions and Decontextualize Fraction Word Problems

Abstract

The focus of this research was to expand on existing literature by providing information on elementary school pre-service teachers' ability to contextualize fraction expressions and decontextualize fraction word problems. The elementary school pre-service teachers who participated in this study were enrolled in a mathematics for elementary school teachers content course in a college of education at a large university during the Spring 2016 semester. In this mixed-method study, the participants were given the Contextualization and Decontextualization of Fractions Instrument (CDFI) which assessed elementary school pre-service teachers' ability to solve fraction word problems and identify decontextualized fraction word problems into expressions and contextualized fraction expressions into word problems. The elementary school pre-service teachers were given the CDFI before and after they completed a unit on fractions. Of the 52 participants who completed both the pre- and post- CDFI, 11 were selected to participant in think aloud interviews in which they decontextualized fraction expressions from word problems and solved and contextualized fraction word problems from expressions. Quantitative results showed an overall statistically significant difference in the elementary school pre-service teachers' pre- and post- test scores. With the exception of two questions, all questions on the CDFI showed a statistically significant difference between the pre- and the post- test scores. No statistical significance was found in the responses to the question that required the elementary school pre-service teachers to identify the expression that matched the given fraction subtraction word problem. A large number of participants correctly identified the correct subtraction expression on the pre-test, and only slightly more of them were able to identify the correct subtraction expression on the post-test. No statistical significance was found in the responses to the question that required the elementary school pre-service teachers to explain their selection of a contextualized fraction multiplication expression. Though there was an increase in the elementary school pre-service teachers' ability to explain their selection of the contextualized fraction multiplication expression, it was not statistically significant. The qualitative analysis of the think aloud interview data showed that some of the elementary school pre-service teachers struggled with contextualizing fraction expressions. Most of the elementary school pre-service teachers did not struggle with solving the fraction word problems, but did struggle with decontextualizing fraction multiplication word problems.

2016

Fall

Ortiz, Enrique

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Mathematics Education

application/pdf

CFE0006506

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0006506

English

December 2016

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

COinS