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Ali Encourages Multiple Procedures for Numerical Problem Solving

Parveen Ali, Department of Developmental Studies, presented her research paper titled “Number Sense in Developmental Students” at the 37th annual conference of the National Association for Developmental Education, held in Denver, Colo., from February 27–March 2, 2013.

The data for this action research was gathered from an assignment consisting of 10 number sense related math problems completed in a developmental algebra course. The results of the study suggest that a majority of developmental mathematics students use routine algorithmic procedures rather than mathematical reasoning to solve these problems and are unable to compose or decompose numbers in flexible ways to simplify mathematical calculations. Only a small percentage of students utilizes benchmarks to mentally compare numbers. They also lack quantitative judgment regarding the relative size of numbers. Additionally, male and female students do not have significant differences on their level of number sense development, and multi-generation students do not perform better than the first-generation students.

A socio-constructive approach to teaching that encourages multiple procedures for problem-solving and invites students to invent and discuss ways to solve a numerical situation is recommended in this study. Educators are encouraged to question, facilitate, and engage rather than model solutions to their student.

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