Abstract |
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The interference of natural numbers with the learning of fractions is often put forward to explain the complexity of this learning (e.g. Stafylidou & Vosniadou, 2004). In a previous study (Meert, Grégoire & Noël, submitted), a negative priming paradigm was used to make obvious persistence of this interference in adults and its control by inhibition. In this paradigm, numerical comparison of fractions with common numerators (x/a – x/b) or fractions with common denominators (a/x – b/x) primed numerical comparison of natural numbers. Only comparing fractions with common numerators was expected to be sensitive to the interference of natural numbers (if a > b, x/a < x/b). Reaction times (RTs) were higher with fractions with common numerators (x/a – x/b) than with fractions with common denominators (a/x – b/x). RTs were also higher with natural numbers primed by fractions with common numerators (x/a – x/b) than with natural numbers primed by fractions with common denominators (a/x – b/x). This negative priming effect is in favour of (1) an automatic activation of the knowledge of natural numbers during the processing of fractions, (2) its interference with the processing of fractions with common numerators (x/a – x/b) and (3) resistance to this interference by inhibition. In the present study, the same paradigm is used in 11- and 13-year-old children. In a first step, a paper-pencil questionnaire is used to measure (1) conceptual knowledge of fractions and (2) performance to a task of numerical comparison of fractions with common denominators (a/x – b/x) and of fractions with common numerators (x/a – x/b). Children who have at least 80% of correct responses at the numerical comparison task are selected to perform individually the numerical comparison task of the priming paradigm used in adults. In addition, performance to the Stroop Color-Word test is taken as a measure of resistance to interference in a non-numerical context. Children are also asked to explain strategies they used to compare fractions. Data collection is in progress. Performance to the numerical comparison of fractions and its sensitivity to the interference of natural numbers will be analyzed according to age, conceptual knowledge level and performance to the Stroop Color-Word test. In addition, we will test if there is a priming effect on the comparison of natural numbers after a correct comparison of fractions with common numerators and if this effect is modulated by age. Finally, we will assess if good performance with fractions with common numerators requires a high level of conceptual knowledge and/or a good capacity to resist to the interference of natural numbers. |