Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Math Teaching Under the Microscope - More East vs. West

Science has this interesting short article about the differences between mathematics classroom teaching in the U.S. vs. Chinese and Japanese classrooms. Based on videotaped math classes:

1. Teachers in Hong Kong and Japan were more than twice as likely than U.S. teachers to use visual examples in their instruction.
2. Japanese and Hong Kong teachers were also more likely to use mental and visual imagery in their lessons.
3. The Asian teachers used more physical gestures in their instruction to emphasize comparisons.
4. In general, the Asian groups demanded less working memory and fact-based retrieval because of their use of cognitive supports.

The take-home points: "If the source analog (or source for comparison) is not familiar and not visible, then students may struggle with processing...U.S. teachers...provide less of the support that would enable their students to reap maximal benefits."

In the graphic above, see how much less time the averaged group of U.S. math teachers spent (red bars)supporting analogical thinking. This sort of educational research is simple, but valuable because it has obvious implications for helping math-struggling students, as well as impacting the design of curricula, teacher training, and resources.

Teaching Supports for Analogical Thinking in Math pdf
Eide Neurolearning Blog: East meets West: Fundamental Differences in Math Teaching
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Different Ways of Doing Math - Leave Your Brain Scan at Home...

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