Rational Number Knowledge: The gatekeeper of higher mathematics

The acquisition of mathematical skills is crucial for today’s society. It has been argued that in individual level, insufficient mathematical competencies may be even more harmful to career prospects than reading or spelling deficiencies. This is to say, that in society level mathematical deficiencies can lead to immense costs. In fact, OECD has argued that improvements in arithmetic skills influence positively on economic growth.

Research has shown that the extent to which elementary school students master rational numbers is a strong predictor of future success in mathematics. However, there is a great deal of evidence that understanding of rational numbers is very difficult for children and that even after considerable mathematics instruction many children fail to perform adequately even in simple rational number tasks.

Mathematics education researchers have admitted that most of the students’ difficulties with rational numbers can be attributed to inadequate instruction. The problem is that the recent advances in modeling numerical development have not been exploited to practices of teachers and the instruction tends to emphasize procedural instead of conceptual knowledge.

Thus, one of my current interests is to design games for supporting the development of rational number conceptual knowledge. In the near future I will devote much time to design a Semideus rational number game that is based on magnitude estimation approach on number lines.  In forthcoming series of posts I will consider the theoretical foundation of the game and report also results about the effectiveness of the game. In meanwhile see Semideus tab for more information.


Professor of game-based learning at Tampere University

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Posted in Math games
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