In math, writing calculations improves success

June 21, 2016 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

OMG! This was such an argument on the domestic homework front! Our kids would not write out the step by step process involved in solving a math problem – no wonder they would often get the answers wrong – usually because of a dumb mistake with multiplication or something.  And because they did not show their work it took forever to discover where the problems lay. Tears! Gnashing of teeth!

Psychologist Marije Fagginger Auer, a specialist in Methodology and Statistics, in her thesis, shows that where lower ability grade 6 math students marks improved when they wrote out the full math calculation.

From the Universiteil Leider news release :

“Developments in maths teaching have resulted in greater emphasis on informal strategies, such as mental arithmetic. However, some students with lower mathematical ability may not be able to choose wisely between strategies. These students often opt for a risky approach to answering, without writing down their calculations. Boys are more likely to do this than girls. It appears that teachers have only limited influence on this choice, but there is something that can be done about it. If lower ability students have to write down their calculations, their performance is better. After training, these students are more likely to choose written calculations.”

In the ancient past, we always got marks for showing our work even the final number was not right – it saved  me on a number of occasions.







Entry filed under: Education Research. Tags: , .

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