, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 121-142

Fifth-grade students’ use and preferences for mathematically and practically based explanations

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Abstract

This paper focuses on fifth-grade students’ use and preference for mathematically (MB) and practically based (PB) explanations within two mathematical contexts: parity and equivalent fractions. Preference was evaluated based on three parameters: the explanation (1) was convincing, (2) would be used by the student in class, and (3) was one that the student wanted the teacher to use. Results showed that students generated more MB explanations than PB explanations for both contexts. However, when given a choice between various explanations, PB explanations were preferred in the context of parity, and no preference was shown for either type of explanation in the context of equivalent fractions. Possible bases for students’ preferences are discussed.