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Article from Toomarian, Hubbard published in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

January 11, 2018

UW-Madison’s Elizabeth Toomarian and Edward Hubbard co-authored a research article that was published earlier this month by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Toomarian is a Ph.D. student with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, where Hubbard is an assistant professor. Hubbard also directs the UW Educational Neuroscience Lab, where Toomarian is a part of the lab team.

Toomarian and Hubbard
Elizabeth Toomarian and Edward Hubbard
Their paper is titled, “The fractions SNARC revisited: Processing fractions on a consistent mental number line.”

The abstract for this research article explains: “The ability to understand fractions is key to establishing a solid foundation in mathematics, yet children and adults struggle to comprehend them. Previous studies have suggested that these struggles emerge because people fail to process fraction magnitude holistically on the mental number line (MNL), focusing instead on fraction components. Subsequent studies have produced evidence for default holistic processing but examined only magnitude processing, not spatial representations. We explored the spatial representations of fractions on the MNL in a series of three experiments.”

Taken together, the authors explain that “these studies offer new insight into the spatial representations of fraction magnitude.”

The results of their research, the paper notes, “suggest that adults can indeed process fraction magnitudes holistically, and that their spatial representations occur on a consistent MNL for both whole numbers and fractions.”

The authors note that “our results indicate that adults who have SNAs (special-numerical association) for whole numbers also have those associations for fractions, suggesting that similar training techniques, specific to fractions, might aid in developing holistic fraction magnitude representations early on in childhood.”

To learn much more about this nuanced topic, check out the entire research article on this Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology web page.
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