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Dev Psychol. 1999 Jan;35(1):164-74.

Early fraction calculation ability.

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Department of Psychology, Indiana University Bloomington, 47405, USA.


Three- to 7-year-olds' ability to calculate with whole-number, fraction, and mixed-number amounts was tested using a nonverbal task in which an amount was displayed and then hidden (J. Huttenlocher, N. C. Jordan, & S. C. Levine, 1994). Next, an amount was added to or subtracted from the hidden amount. The child's task was to determine the hidden amount that resulted from the transformation. Although fraction problems were more difficult than whole-number problems, competence on all problem types emerged in the early childhood period. Furthermore, there were striking parallels between the development of whole-number and fraction calculation. This is inconsistent with the hypothesis that early representations of quantity promote learning about whole numbers but interfere with learning about fractions (e.g., R. Gelman, 1991; K. Wynn, 1995, 1997).

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