Understanding Student Misconceptions
Grand Canyon University: SED 544
June 24, 2015
I found myself sitting at a desk with my hand on my forehead, my foot tapping the floor and my pencil scribbling some dark marks on my homework sheet. I read the question again for the 5th, maybe 6th time. Maria and her friend Mary collected soda cans for a school recycling project. On Friday they collected 25 bottles and cans while on Saturday they collected 60 bottles and cans. How many bottles and cans did Maria and Mary collect in all? I then ask myself “What’s the point, why do they make us do this stuff, I can’t wait till this class is over.” Word problems are found to be ...view middle of the document...
215). Generally if a student is given a word problem such as “Kathy has 4, 143 blocks. She gave 316 blocks away to her friend. How many blocks does Kathy have left?” They would be perplexed by the understanding of what they had to do because of the multiple components it contains. A teacher may have to reiterate that Kathy owns the 4, 143 blocks and compare that scenario to a child owning a bucket of Lego’s. She then may have to talk about having a friend over and giving them some blocks to play with while explaining the word “give” means the same as “subtract.” Another problem she may have is explaining what exactly the question is asking the students to do. In this case the question wants to know how many blocks are left over from the amount that Kathy started with. In order to help these students better understand the question, teachers may want to transfer the information into a money problem where the student can purchase items as if they were shopping in a mall (Copeland & Cosbey).
We have to remember that our basic goal in education is to teach children knowledge that can be used for further learning which they can use later in life to help them in various situations. In order to help students with this transfer and increase their knowledge in math, teachers need to be open to designing new curriculum that encompasses a variety of modalities which may include; discussion, experiments, question & answer sessions, games, and technology. The idea is to incorporate some new styles of learning with a little more excitement, without disrupting what we call “the formal style of learning.” What that means is we need to get students up and out of their chairs. Use the Backward Design Approach to let them discuss math problems amongst their peers, and challenge them as to how they can use the information in real life situations (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Then challenge the students’ knowledge with the use of technology and games. Many times when you ask a student what their favorite subject is they will say “science,” because it’s a common practice for them to work with their peers in a group, where they are able to discuss things such as a hypothesis to an experiment. In contrast, math students are usually at individual desks writing formulas, copying examples from the board and doing practice worksheets. Many times math classes are not considered to be a “hands on” types of classroom.
The use of technology today has made a huge impact on the way students learn mathematical word problems in school. This is especially true for students with disabilities. In the International Journal of Instructional Media 2012, researchers state that “elementary [and middle school] students displayed increased motivation for mathematics after the use of interactive whiteboard technology” (House & Telese, 2012, p.70). Students liked the idea of doing math problems using other forms of materials instead of the old paper and pencil method. House & Telese were also...