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Learning from comparison in algebra. (English)
Contemp. Educ. Psychol. 40, 41-54 (2015).
Summary: Mastery of algebra is an important yet difficult milestone for students, suggesting the need for more effective teaching strategies in the algebra classroom. Learning by comparing worked-out examples of algebra problems may be one such strategy. Comparison is a powerful learning tool from cognitive science that has shown promising results in prior small-scale studies in mathematics classrooms. This study reports on a yearlong randomized controlled trial testing the effect of an Algebra I supplemental comparison curriculum on students’ mathematical knowledge. 141 Algebra I teachers were randomly assigned to either implement the comparison curriculum as a supplement to their regular curriculum or to be a ‘business as usual’ control. Use of the supplemental curriculum was much less frequent than requested for many teachers, and there was no main effect of condition on student achievement. However, greater use of the supplemental curriculum was associated with greater procedural student knowledge. These findings suggest a role for comparison in the algebra classroom but also the challenges of supporting teacher integration of new materials into the curriculum.
Classification: H33 H23 D33
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