TY - JOUR

T1 - Complex fraction comparisons and the natural number bias

T2 - The role of benchmarks

AU - Obersteiner, Andreas

AU - Alibali, Martha Wagner

AU - Marupudi, Vijay

N1 - Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

PY - 2020/6

Y1 - 2020/6

N2 - People are often better at comparing fractions when the larger fraction has the larger rather than the smaller natural number components. However, there is conflicting evidence about whether this “natural number bias” occurs for complex fraction comparisons (e.g., 23/52 vs. 11/19). It is also unclear whether using benchmarks such as 1/2 or 1/4 enhances performance and reduces the bias (e.g., 11/19 > 1/2 and 23/52 < 1/2, hence 11/19 > 23/52). We asked 107 adults to solve complex fraction comparisons that did or did not afford using benchmarks, and we assessed response time and accuracy. We found a reverse bias (i.e., smaller components—larger fraction) that was greater among participants with lower mathematics experience. Fractions' proximity to 0 or 1 facilitated performance and decreased bias; effects of other benchmarks were nonsignificant. These results challenge the generality of the natural number bias in fraction comparison and highlight its variability.

AB - People are often better at comparing fractions when the larger fraction has the larger rather than the smaller natural number components. However, there is conflicting evidence about whether this “natural number bias” occurs for complex fraction comparisons (e.g., 23/52 vs. 11/19). It is also unclear whether using benchmarks such as 1/2 or 1/4 enhances performance and reduces the bias (e.g., 11/19 > 1/2 and 23/52 < 1/2, hence 11/19 > 23/52). We asked 107 adults to solve complex fraction comparisons that did or did not afford using benchmarks, and we assessed response time and accuracy. We found a reverse bias (i.e., smaller components—larger fraction) that was greater among participants with lower mathematics experience. Fractions' proximity to 0 or 1 facilitated performance and decreased bias; effects of other benchmarks were nonsignificant. These results challenge the generality of the natural number bias in fraction comparison and highlight its variability.

KW - Dual processes

KW - Fraction magnitudes

KW - Natural number bias

KW - Strategy use

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85081351085&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2020.101307

DO - 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2020.101307

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85081351085

SN - 0959-4752

VL - 67

JO - Learning and Instruction

JF - Learning and Instruction

M1 - 101307

ER -