Student's success adding and subtracting fractions

The purpose of this study was to examine the ways that different teaching styles influence student learning and understanding when teaching the concept of adding and subtracting fractions. In this study, I analyzed two groups of third grade students. Using the district mandated textbook, one group received instruction using a traditional direct instruction approach. A second group of students made use of manipulatives and hands-on activities through more of a "sense making" or logical approach. In the second group, Cognitively Guided Instruction was also utilized as a style of teaching in which the student connects background knowledge to the presented subject matter in order to connect meaning to symbols or mathematical operations. The data collected from this study indicated that the students in the treatment group were able to make use of their background knowledge in order to make sense of the formal mathematics. Students in the control group continued to attempt to solve the problems using algorithms they had been previously taught. These students did not question whether or not their answers to the problems made sense or were logical. Key words: Fractions, Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), manipulatives, teacher direct instruction.