KEEPING STUDENTS ENGAGED IN MATH
MARIE GRACE L. GARCIA
There’s a surprising way to keep students engaged in math: Let them get frustrated.
According to a recent study, allowing students to struggle with challenging math problems can lead to improved achievement and test scores.
This is a unique approach, I agree, but there’s no harm in trying. The study suggests that there is quite a healthy amount of frustration that’s productive, and that there is the feeling of satisfaction after having struggled with something.
While certain abilities are innate, a lot of children’s talents and capabilities go unnoticed unless they are effectively challenged. The key is doing it in a nurturing environment. A lot of studies say that student engagement and motivation have to do with students’attitudes about math, on whether they like it or not. But there are also studies that say that when students are working on conceptually complex problems in a supportive environment, they do better.
The children feel frustrated, yes, but they also feel satisfied. They take pride and willingness to work harder.
Teachers should see their roles as that of a guide. They may assigned rich word problems, then give students a few minutes to work individually in a way that emphasizes their strengths.
Children who are good at computations can do it that way. If they are visual learners and want to draw, then they can do so. If some want to use manipulatives, they can. We should give students the opportunity to learn in different ways in the math classroom.
Children who were failing will find themselves successful. They will be able to solve problems in ways that were not seen as possible, but which are actually valid.
This approach will give students a sense of accomplishment, as their confidence is brought out by letting them have their own way of looking at problems and sharing it in the classroom.
Motivation is actually a key aspect of achievement that has been ignored in math. Kids need to be provided with challenging math problems in an emotionally safe environment, and the teacher plays a critical role in that. — oOo— The author is Teacher I at Dolores National High School, Magalang, Pampanga.