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Re: mathteachdigest V1 #250
Posted:
May 5, 1998 1:47 PM


Dear Hal:
In answer to these good questions ...
> 1. In your experience, do a significant percentage of students with > good reading ability and good math operational skills also have > difficulty with MWP ? If yes, any opinions as to why ? > Yes. To many times my students seem to be looking for the "quick way" to solve the problem without having to analyze the problem in the beginning.
> 2. Is the use of MWP earlier than 5th grade a helpful approach or does > difficulties that are experienced dilute the math operation education? > I think that the "careful" introduction of MWP's earlier can only strengthen the basic skills.
> 3. Most MWP can be solved by first developing an equation. However, it > can also be solved without the equation by doing the proper math in > steps (e.g. add 'this' to 'that' ..then divide 'this' by 'that'.... > then multiply the answer by 'that' ... etc.). > Should the equation be developed prior to doing the math ? > Here is a point that I disagree with strongly. I tell my students that "developing an equation" is one of the LAST things you do. First : Read the problem carefully enoght that you can paraphrase it. (Don't worry about the exact numbers involved.) Second : Visulaize the problem, drawing a picture if possible. Third : Decide on a descriptive variable (Don't always use "x".) Fourth : NOW set up an equation...
Students have told me that this approach has helped them.
> 4. Have you heard the term: 'dimensional analysis' ? If so, do you use > it ? If yes, how ? No.
> > 5. If you have developed specific MWP techniques that have been really > successful for even the poorer students, please share then with us.
See my answer to #3 above... > > 6. I consider my 'Word/Fraction' technique to be a generic solution > for MWP. Do you think there can be a detailed generic solution that is > > usable even for poorer students ? > That's a tough question !
Herb Kasube Department of Mathematics Bradley University Peoria, IL 61625 hkasube@bradley.bradley.edu



