Type of Document 
Master's Thesis 
Author 
Durkin, Kelley

Author's Email Address 
kelley.durkin@vanderbilt.edu 
URN 
etd12032009232548 
Title 
The Effectiveness Of Comparing Correct and Incorrect Examples for Learning About Decimal Magnitude 
Degree 
Master of Science 
Department 
Psychology 
Advisory Committee 
Advisor Name 
Title 
Bethany RittleJohnson 
Committee Chair 
Georgene Troseth 
Committee Member 

Keywords 
 incorrect examples
 misconceptions
 decimal fractions
 conceptual knowledge
 procedural knowledge

Date of Defense 
20091202 
Availability 
unrestricted 
Abstract
Comparing common mathematical errors to correct examples may help people overcome misconceptions. We examined whether comparing incorrect and correct examples was more effective than comparing two correct examples for students learning about decimal magnitude. Fourth and fifthgrade students (N = 74) were randomly assigned to two conditions: 1) comparing correct and incorrect examples (incorrect condition) or 2) comparing correct examples only (correct condition). Comparing incorrect examples to correct examples helped students learn correct procedures and remember key concepts beyond the general benefits of comparing two correct examples. Students' explanations during the intervention revealed that those in the incorrect condition more frequently discussed correct concepts (e.g. the magnitude of a decimal and identifying misconceptions). Overall, contrasting mathematical errors with correct examples can help people overcome misconceptions, in part by focusing attention on correct concepts.

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