Early Fraction Learning: Links with Prosociality and Self and Other Perspective-Taking

Principal Investigator: 
Co-Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

Little research has addressed how children below age six reason about about fractions and fair-sharing. The proposed studies aim to investigate interactions between such understanding and children's developing theory of mind, metacognition and prosocial behaviors.

Setting: 

Children will be recruited from daycares and schools in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is longitudinal and cross-sectional, and it’s designed to generate evidence that is quasi-experimental. This project collects original data using observation [personal observation and videography] and survey research [structured interviewer-administered questionnaire]. Instruments include WPPSI, prosociality measure, Theory of Mind tests, math assessment tests, and fair sharing questionnaires.

In addition to the scores comprised for each separate task, an overall path analysis will be conducted to analyze the relationships and contribution of each factor to the overall model. We can also determine whether relationships are direct, or mediated by other factors. For instance, ToM might directly impact performance on social fraction tests, but this might be mediated by prosocial tendencies or vice versa. Prosociality might be mediated by ToM, which might then enhance performance on social tasks.

Findings: 

A pilot study has revealed interesting age differences in the ability to reason about proportions and fractions. Older children find the problems easier to solve, but both age groups encounter more difficulty as they are required to divide in parts rather than share whole items; i.e. as the complexity of the problem increases. However, the findings indicate that such concepts can be introduced earlier in the curriculum than is now common practice. Publication of the current results is currently in progress.