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Topic: Re: Polya (discussion)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Oct 9, 1994 5:50 PM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 Kristen Lockwood Posts: 6 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Polya (discussion)
Posted: Oct 9, 1994 5:50 PM

In article <199410031846.OAA18925@oak.cc.swarthmore.edu>,
claird1@cc.swarthmore.edu wrote:

> The problem with doing baseball or barbie questions is that I think
> students really do just want to "strip away the fluff". Kids aren't
> oblivious; if you present a math problem to them using baseball just to
> catch their interest, they will catch on quickly, and merely strip off the
> context. If, on the other hand, you give them some sort of real life task
> to complete, that is interesting to them, and that involves the math that
> you wish to teach, the interest being addressed cannot be seen as fluff.

I think Katie is exactly right. Placing the numbers within a context of
Barbie dolls or baseball does not increase interest directly. The student
still wants to get the problem done as soon as possible and get on to the
next one, so he/she rips the numbers out of the context and applies the
formulas they know are needed to solve the problem. Little additional
thinking is involved unless the students are applying their knowledge of
mathematics to a context THEMSELVES. That is why Katie's idea about
measuring a baseball field to do the computing or doing something hands-on
in class can create more interest. Studetns know that the words are there
to complicate the problem: how hard would the problem be if it were
written in numerical form on a page with 40 others? And they've learned
to avoid the confusion the fluff can create. Using context can allow the
students to make one more step in their understanding of a concept, IF
it's done in an effective way.

Date Subject Author
10/3/94 claird1@cc.swarthmore.edu
10/9/94 Kristen Lockwood