Student Teachers’ Conceptions of Fractions: A Framework for the Analysis of Different Aspects of Fractions



conceptions of fractions, conceptual knowledge, elementary school, student teachers, teacher education


Fractions are core content of elementary school mathematics, and conceptual knowledge of fractions is essential when developing a comprehensive understanding of fractions. Previous research, however, has indicated  limitations in student teachers' fraction knowledge. This study investigated 57 Swedish elementary school student teachers' conceptions of fractions. The data were collected using a paper-and-pencil questionnaire and analysed with an analytical framework building on previous research on four core components of fractions. Using the devised analytical framework, we were able to characterise the conceptual content shown in the student teachers' answers and identify gaps in their fraction knowledge. The most severe gaps were identified in relation to interpretations of fractions, where only the part-whole and the quotient interpretations were identified; the measure, operator, rate, ratio, and number interpretations were missing completely. Aspects of fractions related to representations and procedures were better represented in the participants' conceptions of fractions, but we also illustrate substantial differences between the student teachers. In addition to this quantitative description, we provide qualitative examples. The results raise some questions and implications to be addressed in teacher education programs when developing student teachers' fraction knowledge.


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