One of the attributes of rational numbers that make them different from integers are the different symbolic modes (fraction, decimal and percentage) to which an identical number can be attributed (e.g. 1/4, 0.25 and 25%). Some research has identified students’ difficulty in mental calculations with rational numbers as has also the switching to different symbolic representations between fractions and decimals. However, pupils’ performance, and repertoire of strategies have not been systematically studied in mental calculations with rational numbers expressed in different symbolic representations. The principal question of this research: how is the ability of students to perform mental calculations with rational numbers affected when the same number changes in fraction, decimal and percentage? For the purpose of the study 62 8th grade students were interviewed to examine how this symbolic shift in the number of operations affects the success and type of strategies they use, and the ability to alternate the rotation of these symbolisms. The results of the research show that the symbolic change of the rational numbers affects the success and the type of strategies that students use in mental calculations. Another result of the study demonstrated that students are not flexible when switching between the different symbolic representations of rational numbers as benchmark while performing mental calculations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.