Understanding Multiplicative Contexts Involving Fractions

Pamela Thibodeau Hardiman, Jose P. Mestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies indicate that performance in solving single-step multiplicative word problems is influenced by both problem structure and the types of numbers involved in the problem. For example, including numbers less than 1 often increases the difficulty of a problem. What remains unclear is how problem structure and number type interact in influencing difficulty. This study systematically investigates these 2 factors with math-proficient and remedial college students. Findings indicate that it is the role played by fractions in word problems that influences difficulty rather than simply the number of fractions in the problem. Pedagogical strategies for improving students' ability to perceive and represent multiplicative word problems are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-557
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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