Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Colleen Parks

Second Committee Member

Mark Ashcraft

Third Committee Member

David Copeland

Fourth Committee Member

Carryn Bellomo Warren

Number of Pages



Fractions are first introduced at the elementary school age, yet difficulty with fraction computation (i.e., adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) continues to persist throughout adulthood. Research suggests that fraction knowledge is predictive of future math achievement and success in algebra. Given the early age at which this concept is introduced and the critical role that it plays in future mathematics success, it is important to better understand the cognitive mechanisms involved in fraction computation and why students continue to struggle with this concept. The role of executive function (e.g., attention, inhibition, working memory) in fraction arithmetic is complex. While working memory is essential for multi-step mathematical tasks, the role that working memory plays in fraction arithmetic is unclear. This study used a dual task paradigm (a fraction addition task paired with a memory recall task) to examine the role of working memory in fraction arithmetic. Problem-solving strategies were examined via eye movements to assess procedural fraction knowledge and individual differences in mathematics achievement, mathematics anxiety, and conceptual fraction knowledge were assessed to examine their potential impact on fraction performance. Results suggest that available working memory resources are essential for undergraduate students’ fraction performance. Behavioral and eye tracking results aligned to reveal clear memory load, problem size, and individual difference effects.


Eye tracking; Fractions; Numerical cognition; Working memory


Cognitive Psychology

File Format


File Size

1247 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit