[Numeracy 358] Re: Missing concepts

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awayman1 at kirksville.k12.mo.us awayman1 at kirksville.k12.mo.us
Mon May 10 11:56:40 EDT 2010

This idea that lack of math understanding comes from missing concepts
makes sense to me. If these are concepts "math people" have, and
even textbook writers assume that all adults have them, how can we
know what we need to teach for increased understanding? My questions
therefore are:

1. Where can I find an ordered list of the necessary math concepts
an adult needs to have to understand math?

2. Is there a test already developed to check for these necessary

In other words, how do we identify the problem so we can begin to
"fix" it?
Thank you for any help you can give.

---- Original Message ----
From: steinkedb at q.com
To: chip.burkitt at orderingchaos.com, numeracy at nifl.gov
Subject: [Numeracy 356] Re: Guest Presenters
Date: Sat, 8 May 2010 09:19:24 -0600

Thank you, Chip, for asking about "understanding" math.
If you want to know about understanding math you have to look at how
people think about number relationships. That means going back to -
does number sense develop in childhood? Why do some people "get it"
some don't? (More on that shortly.)

As adults, these people may understand part/whole relationships in
areas of life but may not apply them in math. These are the people we
see in our classes. They don't like math because it has never made
any sense
to them.

Can you teach adults those missing concepts [the ones textbooks
assume all
adults have]? Of course. However, first you have to identify which
concepts the adults are missing.

I am finishing up a student learning research project on the campus
where I
teach looking for the first of those concepts, which is the sense
that each
counting number is exactly the same-sized "1" more than the number
it. I call that concept the "equal distance" concept. It appears that
10% of the adults in the first two levels of our developmental math
[class 1: whole numbers, fractions and decimals; class 2:
pre-algebra] may
lack that "equal distance" concept. This is in a group of over 300
adult students.

As teachers we try to identify the concepts students are missing. Are
looking deep enough? Once we know what is missing, then it can be
Then people can develop "understanding" of number relationships.

Dorothea Steinke
Adjunct faculty, Front Range Community College, Westminster, CO
GED math/developmental math

Annell Wayman, Director
Kirksville Program
Adult Education and Literacy
1103 S. Cottage Grove
Kirksville, MO 63501
(660) 665-2865-phone
(660) 626-1477-fax
awayman1 at kirksville.k12.mo.us

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