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Teaching Basic Concepts Behind Math Problems Are More Useful Than Teaching Children Procedures for Solving Problems

Scientific Blogging

New research from Vanderbilt University has found students benefit more from being taught the concepts behind math problems rather than the exact procedures to solve the problems. The findings offer teachers new insights on how best to shape math instruction to have the greatest impact on

The research by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College and Percival Mathews, a Peabody doctoral candidate, is in press at the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.


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  1. Glad to hear it. I would have thought this was obvious. Teaching a method may enable students to pass a test, but it doesn't teach understanding.

  2. Agreed. If you are a math teacher it is obvious. Successful Teachers know that this is the best way to approach teaching math if you really are into learning stuff. Thanks for dropping by Paul.

  3. Hi Milton, thanks for recently becoming a FoLMeG!! That's a Friend of Learn Me Good! :)

    I am a math teacher, and I completely agree that if kids understand the CONCEPT, they can probably solve more types of problems that fall under that concept. However, if they only know how to solve one TYPE of problem, they are unlikely to be able to figure out other types of problems under the same concept.