Open Thread -- Are Teachers Losing Their Marbles?
In a story published on Friday, April 25 by REUTERS, writer Julie Steenhuysen informs us of a study by Ohio State University research scientists that recently appeared in the journal Science:
The findings cast doubt on the widely used practice among elementary and middle schools in the United States and elsewhere of using friendly, concrete examples to teach abstract math concepts.
The study found that students who learned math concepts using abstract symbols first fared better than those who learned the concepts using real-world examples,1 and that the abstract-first students were better able to apply the concepts to a variety of situations.
Researcher Jennifer Kaminski stated that this doesn't mean real-world examples or story problems should just go away, however. According to Kaminski, story problems provide a a method for testing whether a student has mastered the abstract concept.
This is an Open Thread.
- Real-world examples described in the article included using marbles for discussing probability or "story problems" ('a train leaves Chicago at 3:00...') to teach other abstract concepts.