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Topic: COMPUTATION: A Note From a Colleague
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
COMPUTATION: A Note From a Colleague
Posted: May 16, 1998 10:55 AM
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A colleague in mathematics education, Prof. Ken Clements, sent the
following note to
me recently, and gave me permission to share it. It might be of interest.

I have just been reading parts of Donovan A. Johnson's and Gerald R. Rising's
(1967) "Guidelines for Teaching Mathematics" (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Publishing Co.), and came across the following statement, mostly buried in
a footnote on page 22.

The main text "introduction" stated "Some people assume ... that lack of
skill in computation is due to the 'new math' rather than recognizing that
students of traditional mathematics also lacked computational skill."

Then the footnote said:

"In 1932 Schorling, studying over 200,000 students in grades 5-12, found
that only 20% of the 12th-grade students could compute 2.1% of 60. In 1937
Taylor studied more than 2000 freshmen in teachers' colleges and found that
more than half could not divide 175 by .35. In 1942 Admiral Nimitz reported
that 68% of 4200 freshmen of 27 United States universities and colleges were
unable to pass the arithmetical-reasoning portion of the examination for
entering the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps. In 1942 Brueckner,
conducting a national survey, found that the arithmetical competence
throughout the country was even worse than the Nimitz report indicated."


All good wishes.


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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