KEEP­ING STU­DENTS EN­GAGED IN MATH

Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! -

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.

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