Do you remember watching your math teacher solve a problem on the blackboard and then diligently trying to copy her technique to solve the other problems on your worksheet? The problem is, we absorbed some counterproductive messages in the process.As it turns out, there isn’t always best way to solve a given problem.
In his research, Associate Professor Jon Star is pushing hard to craft some new messages, by showing students how important it is to use multiple strategies when solving math problems.“Math problems can be approached in many different ways,” says Star, an educational psychologist and former math teacher.
“When a teacher insists that there is only one way, or only one best way, to solve a problem, students are missing out.
But what I want students to get from class, besides basic math skills, is how to get through life using the problem-solving skills they develop in math class.
Math teaches us to persevere, analyze and break down a problem, organize a to-do list, and figure out what to do first.
Its purpose is to remind my middle school students in pre-algebra and algebra 1 honors classes that they can solve even complex problems by breaking them down and tackling them one step at a time.
Importance Of Problem Solving In Math Eras Personal Statement Character Limit
My students are accustomed to receiving a stream of encouraging messages along these lines: “Never give up.It goes without saying that we want students to be good problem solvers.Everyone understands the importance of problem solving and equipping children to be able to problem solve.There is great value in allowing them to explore and contrast many different ways to solve problems.”Star and colleague Bethany Rittle-Johnson of Vanderbilt University have conducted a number of studies over the past decade that demonstrate the benefits of comparing a variety of problem-solving approaches for learning math, especially algebra.And their work has paid off: the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences echoed their findings in two recent publications by the What Works Clearinghouse: a new problem-solving guide for grades 4-8 and a new algebra practice guide for middle and high school students.A current favorite student activity demonstrates a link between the undertone, pattern and composure of music and math.My students can be seen walking around campus singing and dancing to the Uptown Factors’ parody of “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.When you’re faced with a complex problem and you hit what looks like a wall, don’t let it stop you. When all we see is a big mountain of what has to be accomplished, it can be intimidating. Musicians, physicians, professional athletes — all invest many years of training, practicing, learning, and all of them get to the end goal by taking one step at a time.Math is a pyramid, not a wall, and you get to the top by taking the first step.”The messages are important to establish a positive tone and boost students’ confidence because some students arrive in class feeling defeated and convinced that they are not good at math. In my class, we have fun solving problems, and that, in itself, is a life lesson.In several recent studies, Star and his colleagues have studied the impact of teachers’ use of these materials on their students’ learning.He calls the results quite promising.“Our research suggests that using our curriculum materials was not especially difficult for teachers, and that students enjoyed and benefited from the emphasis on multiple strategies,” says Star.