Statements on Teaching Decimals


Statements from Research on Teaching Decimals
(1) As with fractions, an understanding of the symbolism for representing decimals is essential to developing understanding of operations with decimals.

Resnick, Lauren B., Pearla Nesher, Francois Leonard, Maria Magone, Susan Omanson, and Irit Peled. "Conceptual Bases of Arithmetic Errors: The Case of Decimal Fractions." Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 20 (January 1989): 8-27.

(2) Students who do not understand decimal notation frequently resort to memorizing procedural rules.

Bell, Alan, Malcolm Swan, and G. Taylor. "Choice of Operation in Verbal Problems with Decimal Numbers." Educational Studies in Mathematics 12 (November 1981): 399-420.

(3) Several research studies have found that students have trouble solving problems involving percents.

Kouba, Vicky L., Judith S. Zawojewski, and Marilyn E. Strutchens. "What Do Students Know About Numbers and Operations?" In Results from the Sixth Mathematics Assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, edited by Patricia Ann Kenney and Edward A. Silver, pp. 33-60. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1997.

(4) One reason percents may be difficult is concise linguistic form which leads students to manipulate numbers based on learned procedures rather than on underlying relationships.

Parker, Melanie, and Gaea Leinhardt. "Percent: A Privileged Proportion." Review of Educational Research 65 (Winter 1995): 421-81.

(5) Students who do not understand decimal notation frequently resort to memorizing procedural rules.

Resnick, Lauren B., Pearla Nesher, Francois Leonard, Maria Magone, Susan Omanson, and Irit Peled. "Conceptual Bases of Arithmetic Errors: The Case of Decimal Fractions." Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 20 (January 1989): 8-27.

(6) Research has shown that most middle-grades children were unsuccessful with a set of tasks that mixed fraction and decimal notation.

Markovitz, Zvia, and Judith Sowder. "Students Understanding of the Relationship Between Fractions and Decimals." Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics 13 (January 1991): 3-11.

(7) The 7th national mathematics assessment found that students performed better on questions that were accompanied by manipulatives than on items that asked them to outline figures on a grid.

Martin, W. Gary and Marilyn E. Strutchens. "Geometry and Measurement". In Results from the Seventh Mathematics Assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, edited by Edward A. Silver and Patricia Ann Kenney, pp. 193-234. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000.

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