Common Causes of Poor Mathematics Achievement for Children and Adolescents and Strategies for Teaching.

Essay by highflying10University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2003

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There are many psychological studies about children and adolescents' problems with mathematics. For teachers to help their students overcome their problems with mathematics, reviewing such studies and implementing the suggested strategies is of the utmost importance. Teachers must first recognize the common problems and their causes in order to apply the most efficient teaching methods with the goal to get students to correctly use mathematical concepts in the classroom and out. The problems to discussed in the present paper will involve mathematical representation and vocabulary, parental influence, and ineffective class activities. To help the students with such problems, teachers and parents should provide various representations with meaning and be positive in their approach to discussing mathematical issues.

Literature Review

Many students from elementary to high school have the same problems with understanding mathematics. One of students' biggest problems is the inability to represent their thinking. Representations can be oral, numeric, drawn, concrete, on a computer, etc.

A student may understand a problem in its oral form, for example, but the written version of the same problem may stump the student because they incorrectly make the transition from the words and symbols on the paper to their mind when they attempt to reason out the answer. This was the case in Fennell's experiment where an elementary student gave the correct response to an oral math problem in the form of a story but could not give the right answer when the same question's representations became numerical (Fennell 2001). Many other students' problems lie in their weakness in mathematical vocabulary. Math, of course, is taught through the medium of language, so Thompson believes that "students need to master this [mathematical] language if they are to read, understand, and discuss mathematical ideas." Students often cannot remember the correct vocabulary terms and their...