IAE Blog

Information Age Education (IAE) is an Oregon not-for-profit corporation founded by David Moursund in August 2007. The IAE Blog was started in August 2010.

A Serious Problem Situation with Math Word Problems

This is my third IAE Blog entry addressing what I consider to be a serious weakness in our math educational system. The problem situation is that many teachers and students think that the educational goal in math word problems is to learn to “get the answer.”

This is in marked contrast to having a goal of using word problems as a vehicle to learning math with understanding and in a manner that transfers to math-related problem situations one will encounter in the future.

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Teaching Teachers and Students Via Training and Education

As a child I learned about training in the context of training factory workers and other people to do particular jobs, and I learned about education as broad preparation to deal with a wide range of different situations at a “higher, professional” level. My mental picture was one of training having immediate, specific utility, and of education being more general and more future oriented.

I encountered training versus education when I taught numerical analysis to undergraduate engineering majors. Many wanted to be trained, rather than educated. I next encountered training versus education when I became the first head of the Computer Science Department at the University of Oregon. It seemed to me that many of our students wanted training in various computer programming languages rather than education in Computer and Information Science. In the latter, the emphasis is on posing, representing, and solving problems, and on the underlying theory (science).

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Presenting Statistical Data in a Meaningful, Dynamic, and Colorful Manner

I want to thank my good friend Johnnie Mullin for pointing me to the website:

Rosling, Hans (2010). Two-hundred countries, 200 years, 4 minutes. Retrieved 12/23/2010 from http://www.flixxy.com/200-countries-200-years-4-minutes.htm.

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More About a Poor Way to Teach the Solving of Math Word Problems

My 12/16/2010 IAE Blog entry about a poor way to teach math word problem-solving has received a lot of hits. (See the entry at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/look-before-you-leap-think-before-you-act-above-all-first-understand.html.) However, it has received few (positive or negative) responses to me or comments added to that entry.

Here are some more of my thoughts on this topic.

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In Problem Solving, Think Before You Act

This IAE Blog entry can be summarized by the statement, "First understand the problem."

My friend Robert Albrecht and I are writing a book on the use of games in math education (Moursund and Albrecht, 2011). Part of our focus is on math word problems. Today I was browsing the Web to find information useful in the book, and I came across a 2001 article in The Math Forum, "Ask Dr. Math" at http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57500.html.

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