Yukari Okamoto, a professor in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School, was part of an expert panel that developed the recently issued practice guide on Developing Effective Fractions Instruction. The guide – which is free and available on the internet – was sponsored by the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), which was established by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences in 2002. WWC seeks to provide educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence for what works in education. Practice guides are designed to provide practical, evidence-based recommendations to teachers and administrators on how to address current challenges in education.
This practice guide, aimed at instruction from kindergarten through 8th grade, presents five recommendations intended to help educators improve students’ understanding of fractions. Recommendations include strategies to develop young children’s understanding of early fraction concepts and ideas for helping older children understand the meaning of fractions and the computations involved. The guide also highlights ways to build on students’ existing strategies to solve problems involving ratios, rates, and proportions. The guide is free and downloadable on the web.
A majority of Dr. Okamoto’s research is concerned with teaching and learning of mathematics and sciences. She participated in the videotaped studies of mathematics and science teaching as part of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). At a much smaller scale, she and her colleagues have compared Japanese and US students’ and teachers’ understanding of rational numbers.
Okamoto’s recent research includes the development of numerical knowledge in mathematically gifted and non-gifted children, as well as observational studies of children’s experience with numbers and quantities at home and at school. She recently completed a cross-cultural, longitudinal study of preschool children during free play with their peers and teachers. Parallel to this work, her research team has looked at children’s learning of numerical concepts at home.
[Yukari Okamoto is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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