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Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(1), 37; doi:10.3390/educsci7010037

Variations of Reasoning in Equal Sharing of Children Who Experience Low Achievement in Mathematics: Competence in Context

1
Teacher Education and Learning Sciences, North Carolina State University, 2310 Stinson Drive, Raleigh, NC 27695-6698, USA
2
Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Utah State University, 2605 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-2605, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: James Albright
Received: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 3 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Issues in Mathematics Education)
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Abstract

For children with persistent mathematics difficulties, research and practice espouses that an altered kind of mathematics instruction is necessary due to sustained performance differences. Yet, a critical issue in mathematics education rests in the question of why research locates the problem within these children. In this paper, we challenge a longstanding assumption about the type of mathematics children with low achievement in mathematics “need” along with how these children are positioned in terms of mathematical thinking and reasoning. Our aim in this work is to identify ways of reasoning evident in the partitioning activity of 43 fifth-grade children as they solved equal sharing situations independent of instruction over ten sessions. Results reveal three themes of reasoning that show a resemblance between these children’s reasoning and existing frameworks of reasoning in equal sharing problems found in prior research among children who did not show low achievement in mathematics. We discuss the results in terms of the problem of a continued conceptualization of low achieving students’ need for specific kinds of teaching and learning experiences and/or detached instructional experiences in school. We advocate for an increase in research that examines how teachers can support participation of these children in mathematics classrooms such that children might develop powerful mathematics conceptions. View Full-Text
Keywords: mathematics learning difficulties; low achievement; fractions; reasoning; informal knowledge mathematics learning difficulties; low achievement; fractions; reasoning; informal knowledge
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Hunt, J.; Westenskow, A.; Moyer-Packenham, P.S. Variations of Reasoning in Equal Sharing of Children Who Experience Low Achievement in Mathematics: Competence in Context. Educ. Sci. 2017, 7, 37.

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