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Previous research on preservice teachers’ understanding of fractions and algebra has focused on one or the other. To extend this research, we examined 85 undergraduate elementary education majors and middle school mathematics education majors’ solutions and solution paths (i.e., the ways or methods in which preservice teachers solve word problems) when combining fractions with algebra on a multistep word problem. In this article, we identify and describe common strategy clusters and approaches present in the preservice teachers’ written work. Our results indicate that preservice teachers’ understanding of algebra include arithmetic methods, proportions, and is related to their understanding of a whole.


Originally published in International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning 2017, Vol 18.1, 109 - 131