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 January 30, 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 January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Researchers at University of Texas at Austin found a link between binge-watching TV shows and feelings of loneliness and depression. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
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