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Knowledge of division & fractions indicates math success

  1. Jun 16, 2012 #1
    I've seen handouts that get distributed at the beginning of first-year calculus courses spelling out the rules of adding & multiplying fractions (among other things), and all the mistakes that are made by students coming out of high school. I think that was mostly based on instructors' experiences but now it looks like there's a study to back it up. considering all the simplifying one needs to do in calculus it comes as no surprise:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615114057.htm
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2012 #2
    partial fraction decomposition!!
     
  4. Jun 19, 2012 #3
    It also weeds out sloppy thinking, which is the bane of mathematics. If you can't follow the simple rules for the division algorithm, there probably isn't much hope for anything more complicated. Granted, the real details behind fractions are not fully understood by most people until they have learned about rings and fields. However, I disagree with the conclusion in the article: that better teaching of long division will somehow lead to a better understanding of mathematics across the board for the students. In my experience this is not the case. The kids who were able to understand long division in spite of having a "bad teacher" were precisely those kids who were capable of applying an algorithm carefully. I would venture to guess that it is that type of thinking that is actually causally linked to success in mathematics.
     
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