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J Exp Child Psychol. 2012 Nov;113(3):447-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Competence with fractions predicts gains in mathematics achievement.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Competence with fractions predicts later mathematics achievement, but the codevelopmental pattern between fractions knowledge and mathematics achievement is not well understood. We assessed this codevelopment through examination of the cross-lagged relation between a measure of conceptual knowledge of fractions and mathematics achievement in sixth and seventh grades (N=212). The cross-lagged effects indicated that performance on the sixth grade fractions concepts measure predicted 1-year gains in mathematics achievement (ß=.14, p<.01), controlling for the central executive component of working memory and intelligence, but sixth grade mathematics achievement did not predict gains on the fractions concepts measure (ß=.03, p>.50). In a follow-up assessment, we demonstrated that measures of fluency with computational fractions significantly predicted seventh grade mathematics achievement above and beyond the influence of fluency in computational whole number arithmetic, performance on number fluency and number line tasks, central executive span, and intelligence. Results provide empirical support for the hypothesis that competence with fractions underlies, in part, subsequent gains in mathematics achievement.

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