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Topic: math-teach-digest V1 #250
Replies: 1   Last Post: May 5, 1998 1:47 PM

 Herbert Kasube Posts: 50 Registered: 12/3/04
Re: math-teach-digest 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