# Unit 1: Understanding of Student Difficulties

ETAP 623 KNILT Homepage | Katie Sheehan's Homepage | Mini Course

**Introduction**

For many students, math is a challenging subject. It has been said that the most frightening part of math are the dreaded word problems. This unit is designed so you can try and see math problems from your students' eyes and recognize difficulties that they may encounter.

**Performance Objectives**

- Using previous experiences, the participants will predict various difficulties that students encounter when solving mathematical word problems.
- Using the educational sources provided, the participants will identify more difficulties that were perhaps overlooked.

**Assignments**

**1. Brainstorming Ideas **

Based on personal experiences or knowledge of the topic, brainstorm a list of at least 5 difficulties students may face when solving mathematical word problems.
**Steps to Follow**

- Share your list in the following link: Brainstorming Difficulities
- To post your ideas, click the "edit" tab on the top right corner of the page.
- Title your post with your name, in order to do this there must be two equal signs (==) surrounding your name, and then you may begin to write your list.
- Lists do not have to be in complete sentences, they can be in bullet form.

**2. Reading Educational Articles on Student Difficulties with Word Problems**

Read the articles below with the following questions in mind:

- Do you think students are cautious when they come across a word problem type question?
- Why do you think students struggle when solving these types of math problems?
- Which do you think is a larger factor when students have difficulty solving these types of problems: Reading the questions and identifying what the problem is asking or the mathematical computations that are involved with solving the problem? Why do you think so?
- What are some ways teachers can help students have more confidence and successfully solve mathematical word problems?

After reading these articles, discuss your responses to these questions with your classmates. One initial post, as well as three responses are required.

**Steps To Follow**

- Post your discussion post in the following link: Math Word Problems Discussion #1
- To post your ideas, click the "edit" tab on the top right corner of the page.
- Title your post with your name, in order to do this there must be two equal signs (==) surrounding your name, and then you may begin to write your list.
- To respond to a peer's response, follow step #2 and below the post to which you wish to respond you may being typing.
- Title ALL response posts with your name, in order to do this there must be
**THREE**equal signs (===) surrounding your name.

- Please notice a response post requires three equal signs, where as your original posts only require two.

**3. Analyzing a Complex Word Problem**

Read and try to solve problems 19, 27, and 37 from the August 2014 NYS Common Core Algebra I Test. [August 2014] The following problems are designed for 8th grade honors and 9th grade regulars (13/14 year olds) to answer correctly.

After trying to solve all three problem, choose one to analyze. Using the readings and our class discussion as a guide, try to discover common errors students may make when trying to solve and depict any difficulties students may have. This analyzation should be a paragraph in length and should have at least one cited source included.

**Email me this assignment at krsheehan@albany.edu.**

**References**

Ali, T. (2011). Exploring Students' Learning Difficulties in Secondary Mathematics Classroom in Gilgit-Baltistan and Teachers' Effort to Help Students Overcome These Difficulties. Bulletin Of Education & Research, 33(1), 47-69.

August 2014. (2015, February 11). Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://www.nysedregents.org/algebraone/814/algone82014-exam.pdf

Gifford, S. S., & Rockliffe, F. (2012). Mathematics difficulties: does one approach fit all?. Research In Mathematics Education, 14(1), 1-15. doi:10.1080/14794802.2012.657436

**Photos**