Although a solid understanding of fractions is foundational in mathematics, the concept of fractions remains a challenging one. Previous research suggests that multiple graphical representations (MGRs) may promote learning of fractions. Specifically, we hypothesized that providing students with MGRs of fractions, in addition to the conventional symbolic notation, leads to better learning outcomes as compared to instruction incorporating only one graphical representation. We anticipated, however, that MGRs would make the students' task more challenging, since they must link the representations and distill from them a common concept or principle. Therefore, we hypothesized further that self-explanation prompts would help students benefit from working with MGRs. To investigate these hypotheses, we conducted a classroom study in which 112 6th-grade students used intelligent tutors for fraction conversion and fraction addition. The results of the study show that students learned more with MGRs of fractions than with a single representation, but only when prompted to self-explain how the graphics relate to the symbolic fraction representations.
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