Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Family chats can help students learn, especially in richer countries, study shows

Date:
July 22, 2010
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
Taking the time to talk to your children about current events like the Gulf Oil spill -- and using mathematical terms to do so -- can help students develop better reasoning and math skills and perform better in school, according to a new study.

Taking the time to talk to your children about current events like the Gulf Oil spill -- and using mathematical terms to do so -- can help students develop better reasoning and math skills and perform better in school, according to a study by a University at Buffalo professor.

"When families chat about societal issues, they often create simple mathematical models of the events," says Ming Ming Chiu, a professor of learning and instruction at UB's Graduate School of Education with extensive experience studying how children from different cultures and countries learn. "Unlike casual chats, these chats about societal issues can both show the real-life value of mathematics to motivate students and improve their number sense."

The findings, published in the current issue of Social Forces, an international journal of sociology, was the first international study on how conversations among family members affect students' mathematical aptitude and performance in school. Chiu's findings were based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; its Program for International Student Assessment collected almost 110,000 science test scores and questionnaires from 15-year-olds from 41 countries, including 3,846 from the U.S.

Interestingly, Chiu found that family chats about society and current events are uncommon, regardless of ethnic background or level of affluence. "They occur less than once a month for 58 percent of the children in the 41 countries," he says. "Students in richer countries, richer families, or with two parents do not have more family chats about societal issues than other students do."

However, Chiu's findings conclude that the impact of chats and other family involvement is much greater in more affluent countries than those in developing countries. So these discussions often do more good in families within richer countries.

"In rich countries, most students have rulers, books, calculators and other physical resources, but they do not spend much time with their parents (family involvement)," he says, "So family involvement becomes more important to student learning in richer countries."

Chiu, whose previous published research includes how overconfidence can stunt reading skills among teenagers, used the data to make the following recommendations for parents and teachers:

  • Chat with children about current social and political events. Chiu suggested creating simple mathematical models of current events ("The BP oil spill leaks 1 million gallons of oil a day for 80 days. Half of 80 is 40, so 1 times 80 is 80 plus 40 or 120 million gallons of oil spilling into the gulf."). These models or meaningful computations allow children to use their basic math skills in a concrete way that not only gets them to practice their math faculties, but also shows how math can help put the world in a more understandable context.
  • Use familiar terms to describe quantities. For example, ask children to estimate how many gallons it would take to fill up their house, apartment or swimming pool.
  • Ask for and listen to children's ideas about current events. Chiu says the research suggests that children's reasoning skills improve when their parents ask them what they would do if they faced a similar situation. ("How would you solve the oil spill?") Can they explain their decisions? ("Does burning the oil help?") Can they compare the real costs of different solutions? ("Does it cost less to burn the oil or use booms to contain it?")

Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Family chats can help students learn, especially in richer countries, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722132437.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2010, July 22). Family chats can help students learn, especially in richer countries, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722132437.htm
University at Buffalo. "Family chats can help students learn, especially in richer countries, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722132437.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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