Technology makes it possible to provide instant feedback to help students.
Why not take advantage of the technology to provide instant feedback to help students and use it to encourage a more progressive math practice?
U.S. school children face their biggest challenge when it comes to attempting to master math. Despite our best efforts over the years to revamp the curriculum and teaching methods, U.S. children continue to fall further behind their peers in other developed nations.
With all the funding and resources being poured in to help improve performance, why are we not seeing the results we’d hoped for? Because children don’t practice math nearly enough.
We all know as adults that to become proficient in any skill, physical or mental, you must practice, practice, practice.
Today’s curricula is so jam-packed with content that teachers have little time during the instructional day to provide opportunities for their students to practice.
And, the few math homework problems they assign don’t provide enough practice for true proficiency either.
Adding to the challenge is that most students don’t like to practice math. Why?
As with any skill, practicing math requires instant feedback to help students to make improvements in technique and the motivation to continue to practice and improve.
However, most conventional methods of practicing math provide little, if any, instant feedback to help students make corrections in their methods to improve results.
With physical skills, such as sports or music, students’ senses provide them with instant feedback.
But with a mental skill like math, those senses become useless in providing the instant feedback to help students.
The feedback students do receive often has a long delay that depends on an adult, such as a teacher or parent, to check their work.
At this point, getting the wrong answer is frustrating, leading many students to view math as too difficult, too complicated and something they’re simply not good at.
This not only has a direct negative impact on their grades but it can also affect their self-esteem and overall motivation to succeed.
For example, imagine asking a class of basketball players to shoot foul shots while wearing a blindfold.
Without the instant feedback to help students see the ball as it hits the backboard and goes through the hoop, they would have no way of knowing where they should aim for on the next attempt to make the shot.
Instead, they’d get frustrated and think they are not good at this skill—much like many students feel about math.
Incorporating a loop of instant feedback to help students into a progressive math practice enables students to see where they’ve gone wrong early on and immediately make adjustments to improve their skills, just like athletes do to improve their skills.
By breaking down math skills into manageable pieces and utilizing instant feedback to help students, they are encouraged to progress at their own pace.
Beginning with basic facts like addition and subtraction, and asking students to practice these skills to the point of mastery before moving on to the next level, students will develop an inherent desire to tackle more complicated challenges with confidence.
Incorporating instant feedback to help students with math by engaging in game-style online programs, similar to the video games children love to play, motivates students to spend much more time practicing math skills.
As a result, students take ownership of their learning process.
Technology makes it possible to provide instant feedback to help students with self-paced practice—along with a bit of friendly competition for additional motivation— to deliver a winning recipe for math mastery when used as a supplement to traditional curriculum.
This proven protocol of instant feedback to help students is already being used by hundreds of school districts around the country, many of which have seen substantial improvement in students’ skill level and in standardized testing results.
In addition to these quantifiable results, schools that incorporate techniques for instant feedback to help students also report a dramatic shift in the overall culture of achievement among students that carries over into other subject areas as well.
Robert Sun is chairman, president and CEO of Suntex International Inc. and inventor of the company’s 24® Game and First in Math® Online Program.
First in Math’s innovative deep practice and immediate feedback techniques have been proven to dramatically improve students’ proficiency in math.
A native of Shanghai who settled with his family in Philadelphia at age nine, Sun now holds numerous U.S. patents, and copyrights for his work in the field of educational games.
He is a nationally recognized expert in the use of technology to enhance mathematics education.
For more information, visit www.FirstInMath.com.