Education

Evaluating Math Instruction

By Liana Loewus — April 14, 2009 1 min read

A new Vanderbilt University study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, finds that students learn best when taught the concepts behind math problems rather than specific procedures on how to solve them, reports ScienceDaily.

“When you just show [students] how to do the problem they can solve it, but not necessarily understand what it is about. With conceptual instruction, they are able to come up with the procedure on their own,” said Percival Matthews, Peabody doctoral candidate and co-author of the study.

In math classes now, many teachers demonstrate solving a problem and then have students practice similar problems—without ever providing a big picture explanation of the mathematical theory.

The researchers also found that having students explain their work offers no discernible improvement in learning. The study suggests that the benefits of self-explanation, as determined in previous studies, are due to giving students additional time to think.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read