Abstract: While a test based on comparing pairs of decimal numbers seems to address only a small portion of the curriculum, it is the pattern of errors that students make on this task that allows us to hypothesize what they may be thinking about decimal numbers. A student who holds an incorrect view of what decimals are will probably spend most of their schooling rote-learning meaningless algorithms for the manipulation and comparison of decimals. The important skill of estimation is disabled if any problem involving decimals creates a sense of disorientation. Rounding numbers and using scientific notation will also be meaningless activities.
Steinle, V., & Stacey, K. (1998a). Students and decimal notation: Do they see what we see? In J. Gough & J. Mousley (Eds.), 35th annual conference of the Mathematics Association of Victoria (Vol. 1, pp. 415-422). Melbourne: MAV.