Using Nonsymbolic Ratios to Promote Fraction Knowledge: A Neurocognitive Approach
This work will contribute to basic science on human number processing and establish a basis for generating effective educational approaches.
Despite the importance of fraction knowledge, children and adults often encounter difficulties understanding fractions.
The principal investigators are building on an emerging body of findings from neuroscience, developmental psychology and education, to argue that children have innate abilities that support fraction concepts. Formal instruction then helps learners build links between symbolic and nonsymbolic fractions.
The research will investigate questions that follow from a "cognitive primitives" perspective:
1) Does the precision of nonsymbolic architectures and of symbolic-to-nonsymbolic links predict fraction knowledge, and can neuroimaging enhance understanding of the mechanisms behind such effects?
2) Can interventions designed to build symbolic-to-nonsymbolic links improve competence with symbolic fractions? If so, will behavioral improvement be accompanied by measurable and predictable changes in neural activity in response to symbolic fraction tasks?
One product of this work will be the development of a psychometrically sound fraction knowledge assessment that can help to tackle the issues of validity and reliability associated with studying fraction knowledge.