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Evaluating Math Instruction

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A new Vanderbilt University study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, finds that students learn best when taught the concepts behind math problems rather than specific procedures on how to solve them, reports ScienceDaily.

"When you just show [students] how to do the problem they can solve it, but not necessarily understand what it is about. With conceptual instruction, they are able to come up with the procedure on their own," said Percival Matthews, Peabody doctoral candidate and co-author of the study.

In math classes now, many teachers demonstrate solving a problem and then have students practice similar problems—without ever providing a big picture explanation of the mathematical theory.

The researchers also found that having students explain their work offers no discernible improvement in learning. The study suggests that the benefits of self-explanation, as determined in previous studies, are due to giving students additional time to think.

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I agree with this wholeheartedly. I teach math in an inner city school where we focus on the process rather than the method. We have seen our students gain a deeper understanding of math and how it can be used. It does take more teaching time and an invesment on the teacher's part. Glad to see some naitonal recognition of this type of teaching.

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  • ALTeacher: I agree with this wholeheartedly. I teach math in an read more




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