Investigation of pupils’ understanding of division operation of fractions in Tanzanian primary school

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Veronica Sarungi

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Winston Massam


AKU-East Africa


Division of fraction comprises two multi-meaning concepts, division and fraction, which makes teaching and learning of division of fractions to be done more procedurally than conceptually. The purpose of this study was to inverstigate pupils’ understsnding of division of fraction in primary level. For this purpose both quantitative and qualitative approaches were used under case study design. A sample of 132 pupils from standard six were involved in the study. Data was collected through written test and interview. All 132 pupils did the test but the interview comprise 12 pupils, 4 pupils from each stratum namely; high achiever, low achiever, and middle achiever. Findings of this study indicate that pupils prefer to define division as equal sharing than equal grouping and as inverse of multiplication, and that they define fractions as part-whole rather than measurement, ratio, set, and quotient. Although when pupils were challenged with concept-structured problems they performed poorly. The findings also indicate that the common strategy for calculating division problems for whole number is long division algorithm while in division of fraction it is invert-multiply. However the findings also indicate that pupils have weak conceptual understanding in using long division and invert-multiply methods, they encounter mistakes and error in their steps and procedures when calculating the answers. Therefore the recommendations includes planning well teaching and learning activities to cut across both procedural understanding and conceptual understanding. Education quality assurance offices should insist in conceptual understanding teaching instead of focusing on syllabus completion. Further studies recommended could be to investigate pupils’ individual challenges in learning division of fraction, common mistakes and errors done by pupils, and the effect of learning supporters on pupils to learn division of fraction.

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