For many students, math is a tough subject that can have a lot of anxiety associated with it. Within math, fractions are often considered particularly hard.
Although important for the acquisition of later math skills, fractions are notoriously difficult.
Understanding and using symbolic fractions in mathematics is critical for access to advanced STEM concepts. However, children and adults consistently struggle with fractions. Here, we take a novel perspective on symbolic fractions, considering them within the framework of relational structures in cognitive psychology, such as those studied in analogy research.
Adults and children alike struggle with fractions, but it also turns out that learning fractions is vitally important for later math skills. Our lab has suggested that children’s ability to learn fractions might build on a more basic perceptual ability to see and understand non-symbolic ratios, which has been demonstrated even in non-human primates.