Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It Pays To Compare: Comparison Helps Children Grasp Math Concepts

Date:
April 10, 2009
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
Comparing different ways of solving math problems is a great way to help middle schoolers learn new math concepts, researchers have found.

Comparing different ways of solving math problems is a great way to help middle schoolers learn new math concepts, researchers from Vanderbilt and Harvard universities have found.

Related Articles


“We found that comparing different ways to solve a problem helped middle-school students become more flexible problem solvers and better understand the concepts behind the methods,” Bethany Rittle-Johnson, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and co-author of the new research, said.

Rittle-Johnson and her colleague and co-author, Jon Star, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, also found that comparing different solution methods was more effective than comparing different problems solved using the same solution. “Overall, students should not just learn one way to solve a math problem; rather, they should learn multiple ways and be encouraged to compare the benefits and drawbacks of each,” she said.

The findings are summarized in two studies, one recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology and the other in press at the Journal of Educational Psychology.

“In U.S. math classes, teachers typically demonstrate a procedure for solving a problem and then have children practice solving related problems,” Rittle-Johnson said. “Students have very few opportunities to compare different ways to solve problems and tend to solve problems in a single way with limited understanding of why the way works.”

In the new studies, Rittle-Johnson and Star found seventh and eighth graders who compared two different ways to solve equations were both more accurate and more flexible in how they solved equations. The benefits of comparison were most pronounced when the examples being compared differed on key features.

They saw the same effect when fifth graders were working on problems that involved estimation.

“In a past study, we found that seventh graders who compared two different ways to solve equations were both more accurate and more flexible in their equation solving. In our recent studies, we found similar benefits for fifth graders learning about estimation,” Rittle-Johnson said.

Rittle-Johnson is an investigator in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and in the Vanderbilt Learning Sciences Institute. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "It Pays To Compare: Comparison Helps Children Grasp Math Concepts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090410143807.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2009, April 10). It Pays To Compare: Comparison Helps Children Grasp Math Concepts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090410143807.htm
Vanderbilt University. "It Pays To Compare: Comparison Helps Children Grasp Math Concepts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090410143807.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins