Learners‟ conceptual understanding and misconceptions of fractions in primary schools in Amuria district local government, Uganda

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Geoff Tennant

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fulgence Swai Saronga


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Fractions are a core part of the mathematics curriculum, important in their own right and also as a building block to more advanced topics. There is clear evidence, however, that the teaching and learning of fractions pose a challenge to many teachers and learners in primary schools the world over, with a number of common misconceptions resulting in persistent errors in learners‟ work. If these errors are not addressed at their early stages, it becomes a challenge to address them. In this study a sample of 20 Ugandan primary 5 and 6 children were given 7 additional lessons on fractions with the teaching drawing on elements of good practice. The same tests were given before and after this intervention examining attitudes towards fractions with also fractions questions from within their taught curriculum. Learners showed positive attitudes towards fractions in the pre-intervention test, including on topic areas (e.g. addition of fractions) which were not done well. Whilst some improvements in attainment were seen in the questions on fractions in the post-test, it was noticeable that, in a number of cases, children performed less well in the post-test and in some cases attitudes were less positive. Reasons discussed include the lack of security in concepts when being moved away from purely instrumental approaches. Also it seemed likely that the participants‟ existing schema were not adequate enough to enhance their understanding of operations of fractions. This study recommends that teachers should make an effort to address persistent errors that manifest in learners‟ work, ensuring that key underlying concepts, including equivalence of fractions, are thoroughly learnt. Normal classroom lessons are better placed to address misconceptions than intervention lessons.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library