Technology helps students transcend part-whole concepts


How would your students make sense of the fraction 5/7? Would they interpret it as 5 parts out of 7 equal parts? Could they also understand it as a piece that is 5 times as large as 1/7? The former interpretation aligns with part-whole conceptions, whereas the latter aligns with partitive conceptions. Steffe and Olive (2010) have made such distinctions in students’ fractional knowledge to explain why students experience difficulties with fractions and to help students overcome those difficulties. (For summaries of this work, see Norton and McCloskey 2008 and 2009.)

We introduce an educational video game (application, or app) designed to promote students’ development of partitive understanding while demonstrating the critical need to promote that development. The app includes essential game features of immediate feedback, incentives, and summary information for refl ection and discussion (Evans et al. 2013).