‘Math’ taught with restricted ways to solve

‘Math’ a four letter word considered as terror and horrifying
for most of the students. Sometimes because of this word stress and anxiety is
caused among the students, a
feeling of tension, apprehension, that interferes and affects their performance
in this particular subject. Why is this four letter word a horror story for students?
The answer to this question is that math is always considered to be a right or
wrong subject and getting right is paramount. The subject is
victim as it is often taught with restricted ways to solve a particular problem
and any other approaches would be wrong, even if students get the right answer.
When learning, understanding the concepts should be vital, but with a right/wrong
approach to teach this particular subject, students are encouraged not to try,
not to experiment, not to
find algorithms that work for them, and
because of this their critical thinking skills are badly affected which hinders
them in providing proper justifications and reason for the particular approach
towards problem solving.

“Teachers
benefit children most when they encourage them to
share their thinking process and justify their answers out loud or in writing
as they perform math operations. … With less of an emphasis on right or wrong
and more of an emphasis on process, teachers can help alleviate students’
anxiety about math”.(Furner, Joseph M., Berman, Barbara T., “Math anxiety:
Overcoming a major obstacle to the improvement of student math
performance”, Childhood
Education, Spring 2003)

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The
fear towards this subject is because of some emblematic approach followed by
the teachers and that is:

·        
a problem related to a
topic is introduced

·        
a solution technique
is introduced in form of series of lectures

·        
number of  practice problems are repeated until mastery
is achieved

This emblematic approach needs to be replaced by making learning
and knowledge as student’s creation; however rote learning and a conventional
approach (right/ wrong) to teaching math serves as external to the student.  Focusing on the concepts rather than the
correct answer should be approach when teaching this subject. Students should be allowed to work on their own and discuss
their solutions; along with the approach towards solution before the answer is
given.

Effective Factors to Lower Math Anxiety:

·        
Accommodating
for different learning styles.

Math lessons should
be flexible and can be altered according to the needs and learning styles of students. New
concepts can be taught through different activities such as, small skit or act,  hands on activities, interactive group work,
visual aids or information technology

·        
Relaxation
in  testing environments

·        
Relating
math with everyday life.

Students
are always inquisitive about what they study and why they study they try to
relate each and every detail of their studies with the use of it in everyday
life or relation of it to everyday life issues and problems. Children learn best when math is taught in a way that is
relevant to their everyday lives.

·        
Letting
students evaluate by putting in their own input.

Students
should be given a free hand to explore different approaches towards the
solution of the particular problem rather than by restricting them to follow
what is taught. Different strategies and approaches will help them to derive
the formulas according to their own needs. This will help them to develop
confidence in learning new concepts.

·        
Discourage passive
learning and encourage active learning.

 To learn mathematics in depth, students should
be engaged in exploring, conjecturing, and thinking, as well as in rote
learning of rules and procedures. Instead of rote learning of formulas
manipulatives should be introduced where they are able to evaluate or evolve
their own formula and strategy.

·        
Visualization has
also been used effectively to help reduce math anxiety.

It is observed that what ever we see we
remember it for long . Math is a subject in which students needs to remember
many steps and procedure required towards the correct approach . visualization
can be a help to a greater extent. Digital
tools support visualization.

Role
of digital tools in mathematics

Nowadays Children are
obsessed with gadgets and technologies. They are getting access to many new
things with just a click. They enjoy experimenting , exploring, and thinking . These are all the things which we require
for detail study of this particular subject and this is the reason technology
can be very well connected to mathematics. Digital
tools support visualization of mathematical concepts in various ways of
expressions, and as such may foster versatile thinking, especially when these
representations are dynamically linked. At the upper secondary education, these
tools can be used for exploring and discovering mathematical correlations and
for modeling real complex phenomena.

In mathematics education, content-specific technologies
include computer algebra systems; dynamic geometry environments; interactive
applets; handheld computation, data collection, and analysis devices; and
computer-based applications. These technologies support students in exploring
and identifying mathematical concepts and relationships. Findings from a number
of studies have shown that the strategic use of technological tools can support
both the learning of mathematical procedures and skills as well as the development
of advanced mathematical proficiencies, such as problem solving, reasoning, and
justifying .
The use of all these possibilities foster
processes that cannot be developed so well in absence of technology,These
technologies increase students’ access to information, ideas, and interactions
that can support and enhance sense making, which is central to the process of
taking ownership of knowledge.

 Geogebra is one of
such software which joins geometry , algebra and calculus. It is a software
which dynamically and interactively connects to geometry system. You can do
constructions with points , vectors, segments, lines, polygons and conic
sections as well as functions while changing them dynamically. This software
has the ability to deal with variables for numbers, vectors and points
functions and graphs.

 

Use of Geogebra in secondary mathematics

GeoGebra is a Dynamic
Mathematics Software (DMS) for teaching and learning mathematics from middle
school through college level. It is as easy to use as Dynamic Geometry Software
(DGS) but also provides basic features of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) to
bridge some gaps between geometry, algebra and calculus. GeoGebra is open
source software under the GNU General Public License and freely available at www.geogebra.org.
There, you can either download installers for multiple platforms or launch the
software directly from the Internet using GeoGebra Web Start. It is also
available as an applet.

                                                                                                               

Technology is essential in
teaching and learning mathematics; it influences the mathematics that is taught
and enhances student’s learning.