How reform curricula in the USA and Korea present multiplication and division of fractions

Ji-Won Son and Sharon L. Senk

Published online: 9 March 2010

# Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Abstract In order to give insights into cross-national differences in schooling, this study

analyzed the development of multiplication and division of fractions in two curricula:

Everyday Mathematics (EM) from the USA and the 7th Korean mathematics curriculum

(KM). Analyses of both the content and problems in the textbooks indicate that

multiplication of fractions is developed in KM one semester earlier than in EM. However,

the number of lessons devoted to the topic is similar in the two curricula. In contrast,

division of fractions is developed at about the same time in both curricula, but due to

different beliefs about the importance of the topic, KM contains five times as many lessons

and about eight times as many problems about division of fractions as EM. Both curricula

provide opportunities to develop conceptual understanding and procedural fluency.

However, in EM, conceptual understanding is developed first followed by procedural

fluency, whereas in KM, they are developed simultaneously. The majority of fraction

multiplication and division problems in both curricula requires only procedural knowledge. However, multistep computational problems are more common in KM than in EM, and the response types are also more varied in KM.