Utilizing Analogical Reasoning to Aid Children’s Proportional Reasoning Understanding


  • Lillian Ham
  • Elizabeth A. Gunderson Orcid


Proportional reasoning is an important skill that relates to fraction learning and math achievement. Because both proportional and analogical reasoning involve comparing relations, we hypothesized that supports for analogical reasoning (multiple exemplars and labels) would help children match discrete proportions. Fourth and 5th graders (N = 119) completed a 16-item proportional equivalence choice task in a 2 (exemplars: one, two) x 3 (script type: juice mixing narrative, novel adjectives, no labels) x 2 (trial type: part-foil, whole-foil) mixed-effects design. The juice mixing script included common labels and a story paradigm, whereas the novel adjectives script only utilized common labels. The least-informative no-labels script served as a baseline. Results showed a significant three-way interaction between exemplars, script type, and trial type. Viewing two exemplars led to no significant differences across the other factors. However, when viewing one exemplar, children exhibited a part-matching bias with novel adjectives and no labels, but not the juice narrative. In sum, multiple exemplars and the juice narrative reduced children’s part-matching bias; we conclude that supports for analogical reasoning can aid proportional reasoning as well.