Division of fractions: Preservice teachers’ understanding and use of problem solving strategies


A teacher’s profound mathematical understanding is critical in learning to teach mathematics for understanding (Fennema & Franke, 1992; Ma, 1999). This research study investigated preservice teachers’ solution processes to determine their conceptual and procedural understanding of division of fractions. Qualitative methods, involving interviews and analysis of written responses on problem solving tasks were employed. Ten preservice teachers responded to five problems and four of them were interviewed to clarify their problem solving strategies. Results showed that preservice teachers used a variety of strategies but lacked a strong conceptual understanding of the meaning of division of fractions. Findings supported the need to provide a strong content preparation for preservice teachers with focus on teaching and learning for understanding.