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Discussion: Research Area
Topic: More on Drill and Kill, practice and learning


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Subject:   RE: More on Drill and Kill, practice and learning
Author: rabeldin
Date: Jan 17 2005
I think we are in violent agreement. The student who can't see that x^12+... is
a trinomial has apparently made a mental shortcut of the kind that causes me
despair. Instead of internalizing the formal definition and struggling with it,
she has ignored the essence of a trinomial (three additive terms) and has
fixated on the appearance of the coefficients, variables and exponents.

Finding and breaking these fixations is a prime task for every math instructor.
Quizzes and class excercise with public critiques are helpful in this endeavor.
This is the kind of practice that students need. It is hardly what we condemn as
drill and kill. But..., the public critique of student work, either on the
quizzes or the classroom exercises is very valuable. The recent emphasis on
phony ego building has led some teachers to scale back their public critiques. I
think this is counterproductive. Students don't need fantasy to strengthen their
egos, they need real accomplishments.

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