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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Answer is Not the Answer

I have been using an idea from Warren Esty's excellent Precalculus (4th Edition) in class that is working very nicely. I have been having the Geometry students work through some tricky area problems. I'm more interested in their process than "the answer", and I told them as much. So I asked them to find their answers to the nearest tenth, write down how they got them, and then gave them this:



...which did wonders to relieve their anxiety, and took the emphasis off the answer, and put it on the process.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Kate. This sounds like a really great idea, but why not give your students the answers to all of the problems...all of the time? You setup this template of partial answers so that they could receive quicker feedback, right? Providing answers daily (rather than waiting 24 hours to find out if they're right) would de-emphasize getting the "right answer," right?

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  2. Because they are 14, and if there isn't some kind of check, there would be no accountability. If I just gave them all the answers, some of the students would copy the answers in their own writing and then cop an attitude if I didn't get them credit for not showing their work.

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  3. Interesting. I have tried giving all answers to my 9th and 10th grade geometry students with different results. Have you ever tried it out for yourself?

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  4. I guess your 9th and 10th graders must be more mature than mine. I'm sure most of them would react just fine, but a small population needs some extrinsic incentive.

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  5. I like. It's also in line w/ the "effective worksheet" ideas you posted earlier this year. Get kids their practice, but not blindly - which could easily result in misconceptions that are near irreversible.

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  6. Memorably unusual!

    Does giving most of the answer frustrate them? I have kids grit their teeth when I ask, for example, "explain why the answer is 23"

    Jonathan

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  7. Not so much, JD. I have had kids complain when I give them the whole answer, because they "can't not look!" But I didn't get any complaints, leaving the last digit to find.

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  8. I'm with Matt here. I give my kids an answer key and the problems worked out. We both use a standards-based grading system so that's why it works. They don't get points for practice. Takes the pressure off entirely. They can worry about figuring out how to do it rather than completing it and getting credit.

    My kids are 8th grade.

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  9. Results and process matter. I find with bright children, like my son, he often figures out his own process and gets the right answer. I often learn from him.

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  10. What do you think it would take to break the students of the habit of "answer chasing?" I see what Matt is saying with regards to "just give 'em the answer" but I understand your concern with how students would then write it down and pass it of with "well I got the answer." All I know is that some time in college I realized that education wasn't about the answer, it was about asking good questions.

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  11. (Oops! You're getting the same spam I did. I'm moderating comments now to get rid of it. But that may have reduced the number of real comments I'm getting.

    Hmm, either it's real people spewing this dreck, or the spambots have learned how to enter your verification words.

    Delete this comment along with the spam if you want.)

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  12. Yep. There was even one in there for several days I didn't notice was spam until now. What a pain.

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  13. I like the idea of giving part of the answer. Allows them to check to make sure they're on track, but still requires *some* effort on their part other than just matching answers.

    I just had a conversation today with a calc student about how the "why" and "how did you get that" questions are more important than the "is it the right answer" question. All too often that's all that they care about...and I know I often feed that ugly monster.

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Hi! I will have to approve this before it shows up. Cuz yo those spammers are crafty like ice is cold.