An Action Research Study Involving Fifth-grade Students Learning Fractions Through A Situative Perspective With Story Problems

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Allen, Colleen
situative perspective; fraction; communication; discourse; constructivism; pedagogy; content knowledge; equal-sharing; story problems; action research; fifth-grade; reasoning; justifying; problem-solving; informal knowledge; fraction resear
thesis / dissertation description
The purpose of this action research study was to investigate the affects of teaching through a situative perspective with story problems on students' understanding of fraction concepts and operations in my fifth-grade mathematics classroom. Students participated in twelve weeks of instruction. Data was collected in the form of pre and post tests, audiotaped and videotaped recordings of instructional sessions, and student work samples. Data analysis revealed that my students constructed their own knowledge about various fraction concepts and operations because students engaged in discussions, after solving story problems, that developed, extended and restructured their knowledge. One example of this occurred after students had solved an equal-sharing problem. Two students came up with different answers and another student explained why both answers were equivalent. Student work samples and post test results indicated that the one student's explanation was understood, adopted and extended by all the students in my class. The data also revealed that students' pictures typically represented the context and action of the story problems. For example, subtraction problems dealing with length were usually represented by number lines or horizontal rectangles with crossed-out markings to show the subtraction operation. Throughout this research study, I discovered that my students were capable of learning from each other and solving problems for which they have no preconceived algorithm. I also learned that analyzing students' work and listening to their discussions in ways that focused on their thinking, not their answers, provided me with information about what my students were grasping and not grasping.