Semantic Alignment of Fractions and Decimals with Discrete Versus Continuous Entities: A Cross-national Comparison


Previous work has shown that adults in the United States selectively use fractions and decimals to model discrete and continuous entities, respectively. However, it is unclear whether this apparent semantic alignment between the format of rational numbers and quantitative ontology is specific to the American education system, the English language, or measuring conventions (primarily imperial measures). Here we test whether similar alignments hold for Korean college students who differ from American students in educational background, language, and measurement conventions. Across three experiments, we found that the alignments found in the United States were generally replicated in South Korea. Relative to Americans, Korean students showed an overall bias towards using continuous representations, perhaps related to their exclusive use of the metric measurement system and to differences in instructional practice identified in a textbook analysis.

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