In my previous post I wrote about the overemphasis on memorization and drills and brought some arguments for balancing all three aspects of knowledge in mathematics: factual, procedural, and conceptual. Let’s review:
- Memorization of math facts is important. It allows for complex tasks to be carried out.
- Procedures should be taught after or in tandem with concepts. One supports the comprehension of the other.
- Block practice (in textbooks and in teaching) is detrimental to learning. The overlearning as well as familiarity effects occur.
- Excessive modeling and examples in math can actually interfere with learning. They increase performance in the short term but hinder learning in the long run.
- Space out practice and interleave mathematical concepts. If you focus on a topic (i.e. fractions) make sure your students not only apply it in different contexts, but are also engaged in solving problems you previously taught (i.e. geometry or measurement topics). Even better, use fractions, measurement, and geometry together (Example: 1/3 of the area of a rectangle is red. Knowing that the perimeter is 64m and one of the sides is 1,000cm, find out what part of the rectangle is red. – Knowledge of area and perimeter, knowledge of fractions, and knowledge of measurement conversion).