Tag Archives: dyscalculia

Girls and math phobia

20 Jan

Many students have difficulty with math. Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Study Helps Pinpont Math Disability

Burgeoning research into students’ difficulties with mathematics is starting to tease out cognitive differences between students who sometimes struggle with math and those who have dyscalculia, a severe, persistent learning disability in math.

A new, decade-long longitudinal study by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, published Friday in the journal Child Development, finds that 9th-graders considered dyscalculic—those who performed in the bottom 10 percent of math ability on multiple tests—had substantially lower ability to grasp and compare basic number quantities than average students or even other struggling math students….

There is a persistent myth that girls have difficulty with math because of self-esteem issues regarding the study of math.

The University of Missouri is reporting about a new study which examines past research regrading women and math. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

A University of Missouri researcher and his colleague have conducted a review that casts doubt on the accuracy of a popular theory that attempted to explain why there are more men than women in top levels of mathematic fields. The researchers found that numerous studies claiming that the stereotype, “men are better at math” – believed to undermine women’s math performance – had major methodological flaws, utilized improper statistical techniques, and many studies had no scientific evidence of this stereotype.

This theory, called stereotype threat, was first published in 1999 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Essentially, the theory is that due to the stereotype that women are worse than men in math skills, females develop a poor self-image in this area, which leads to mathematics underachievement.

The stereotype theory really was adopted by psychologists and policy makers around the world as the final word, with the idea that eliminating the stereotype could eliminate the gender gap,” said David Geary, Curators Professor of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “However, even with many programs established to address the issue, the problem continued. We now believe the wrong problem is being addressed.”

In the study, Geary and Gijsbert Stoet, from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, examined 20 influential replications of the original stereotype theory study. The researchers found that many subsequent studies had serious scientific flaws, including a lack of a male control group and improperly applied statistical techniques….

The researchers believe that basing interventions on the stereotype threat is actually doing more harm than good, as vital resources are being dedicated to a problem that does not exist.

These findings really irritate me, as a psychologist, because this is a science where we are really trying to discover what the issues are,” Geary said. “The fact is there are still a disproportionate number of men in top levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We need more women to succeed in these fields for our economy and for our future.”

See, Math Gender Gap Not Result of Girls’ Low Self-Esteem, Researchers Say http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/18/gender-gap-in-math_n_1214517.html?ref=email_share

Other studies have looked at the influence of gender on math performance.

Science Daily reported in the March 14, 2011 article, Gender Stereotypes About Math Develop As Early As the Second Grade

Children express the stereotype that mathematics is for boys, not for girls, as early as second grade, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers. And the children applied the stereotype to themselves: boys identified themselves with math whereas girls did not.

The “math is for boys” stereotype has been used as part of the explanation for why so few women pursue science, mathematics and engineering careers. The cultural stereotype may nudge girls to think that “math is not for me,” which can affect what activities they engage in and their career aspirations.

The new study, published in the March/April issue of Child Development, suggests that, for girls, lack of interest in mathematics may come from culturally-communicated messages about math being more appropriate for boys than for girls, the researchers said.

Here is the study citation:

Dario Cvencek, Andrew N. Meltzoff, Anthony G. Greenwald. Math-Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children. Child Development, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01529.x

John ChildUp has an excellent synopsis of the math study, Math Gender Stereotypes Start As Early As Second Grade at his ChildUp blog:

Some sobering news for parental foes of sex stereotypes: A new study reinforces the devastating impact stereotypes can have on girls when it comes to math.

Little boys may love their trains and toys, but as early as second grade they’re already showing prowess on the mathematical front, sending a subliminal message to their female classmates about expectations for math test scores and even potential career paths, according to a new study, “Today” reports.

Researchers at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington studied 247 American children between the ages of 6 and 10 and found that second grade boys identified with math more strongly than girls. The study was published in Wiley’s Child Development.

See, U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around World on Math-Science Test http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/04/AR2007120400730.html

It is important both for an individual student and the national competitiveness to have trained teachers and curriculum to advance the math education of all populations of students.

Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted counts.

– Albert Einstein

Contact information:

The study, “Can stereotype threat explain the sex gap in mathematics performance and achievement?” will be published in the journal Review of General Psychology.

Story Contact:
Steven Adams, AdamsST@missouri.edu, 573 882-8353

 

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

New Haven schools adopt ‘Singapore Math’

27 Dec

Melissa Bailey reports in the New Haven-Independent article, Singapore Math: New Haven Schools Adopt New Method Of Teaching From Abroad:

The new tools emerged as Carr and other elementary teachers try out a new method called Singapore math. In effort to get New Haven kids up to speed with their international counterparts, and in stride with a national Common Core State Standards initiative, the city is rolling out Singapore math to all classrooms in grades K to 5, starting this year with grades K to 2.

The method is based on a curriculum introduced in 1992 in Singapore’s public schools. Teachers take a slow pace, focusing on thorough understanding of the fundamentals of math, with multiple approaches to the same problem. After implementing the new curriculum with its half-million public school students, the Southeast Asian country has been the top-performing nation in elementary math for every year since 1995, sending school districts around the world scrambling to replicate their success.

New Haven tried out the method in a few classrooms last year at King-Robinson International Baccalaureate School and Celentano Museum Academy. Now Rosalie Carr is one of about 260 teachers doing Singapore math this year.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/singapore-math-new-haven-_n_1158124.html?ref=education

Winnie Hu has an excellent article in the New York Times, Making Math As Easy As 1, Pause, 2, Pause…. It is not clear whether Singapore Math is simply another education fad or there is some true education benefit to the theory upon which the curriculum is based, that children must learn a concept deeply before progressing. Methinks, they are on the right track. See, US Teens Trail Peers Around the World On Math-Science Test

Perhaps the best concise description and information about Singapore Math is found at Home School Math which provides the following review.     

Singapore Math is the actual curriculum used in Singapore from 1982 to 2001 (English is the language of instruction in Singapore).

The Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition (for grades 1-6) series of elementary math textbooks and workbooks uses the Concrete> Pictorial>Abstract approach. The students are provided with the necessary learning experiences beginning with the concrete and pictorial stages, followed by the abstract stage to enable them to learn mathematics meaningfully. This approach encourages active thinking process, communication of mathematical ideas and problem solving. This helps develop the foundation students will need for more advanced mathematics.

The key concept is developing deeper subject matter knowledge. Joy Resmovits has an interesting article at Huffington Post.

In U.S. Students’ Low Math Test Proficiency Could Have Consequences For GDP Resmovits reports:

U.S. students rank poorly in proficiency on both domestic and international math exams, a problem that could cost the country $75 trillion over 80 years, according to a new study.

U.S. students fall behind 31 countries in math proficiency and behind 16 countries in reading proficiency, according to the report released Wednesday, titled “Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?

Resmovits is reporting about the report, Globally Challenged: Are U. S. Students Ready to Compete? The latest on each state’s international standing in math and reading by Paul E. Peterson, Ludger Woessmann, Eric A. Hanushek and Carlos X. Lastra-Anadón.

Here is a portion of the Executive Summary:

Proficiency in Mathematics

U.S. students in the Class of 2011, with a 32 percent proficiency rate in mathematics, came in 32nd among the nations that participated in PISA. Although performance levels among the countries ranked 23rd to 31st are not significantly different from that of the United States, 22 countries do significantly outperform the United States in the share of students reaching the proficient level in math. In six countries plus Shanghai and Hong Kong, a majority of students performed at the proficient level, while in the United States less than one-third did. For example, 58 percent of Korean students and 56 percent of Finnish students were proficient. Other countries in which a majority—or near majority—of students performed at or above the proficient level included Switzerland, Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands. Many other nations also had math proficiency rates well above that of the United States, including Germany (45 percent), Australia (44 percent), and France (39 percent). Shanghai topped the list with a 75 percent math proficiency rate, well over twice the 32 percent rate of the United States. However, Shanghai students are from a prosperous metropolitan area within China, with over three times the GDP per capita of the rest of that country, so their performance is more appropriately compared to Massachusetts and Minnesota, which are similarly favored and are the top performers among the U.S. states. When this comparison is made, Shanghai still performs at a distinctly higher level. Only a little more than half (51 percent) of Massachusetts students are proficient in math, while Minnesota, the runner-up state, has a math proficiency rate of just 43 percent. Only four additional states—Vermont, North Dakota, New Jersey, and Kansas—have a math proficiency rate above 40 percent. Some of the country’s largest and richest states score below the average for the United States as a whole, including New York (30 percent), Missouri (30 percent), Michigan (29 percent), Florida (27 percent), and California (24 percent)….

Performance of U.S. Ethnic and Racial Groups

The percentage proficient in the United States varies considerably across students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. While 42 percent of white students were identified as proficient in math, only 11 percent of African American students, 15 percent of Hispanic students, and 16 percent of Native Americans were so identified. Fifty percent of students with an ethnic background from Asia and the Pacific Islands, however, were proficient in math. In reading, 40 percent of white students and 41 percent of those from Asia and the Pacific Islands were identified as proficient. Only 13 percent of African American students, 5 percent of Hispanic students, and 18 percent of Native American students were so identified….

Here is the citation:

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/Papers/PEPG11-03_GloballyChallenged.pdf

Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Study Helps Pinpont Math Disability

Burgeoning research into students’ difficulties with mathematics is starting to tease out cognitive differences between students who sometimes struggle with math and those who have dyscalculia, a severe, persistent learning disability in math.

A new, decade-long longitudinal study by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, published Friday in the journal Child Development, finds that 9th-graders considered dyscalculic—those who performed in the bottom 10 percent of math ability on multiple tests—had substantially lower ability to grasp and compare basic number quantities than average students or even other struggling math students…

The study, she said, may help researchers and educators understand the underlying causes of persistent math problems and identify the students who need the most intensive instructional support.

Math-learning disability affects about 5 percent to 8 percent of school-age children nationwide, about as many people nationwide as are affected by dyslexia. Yet experts say research on the reading problem has for decades dwarfed studies of math difficulties by 20 to one…

We know that basic numeracy skills are a greater predictor of later success in life than basic literacy skills,” said Daniel Ansari, one of the pioneers in the neuroscience of dyscalculia, speaking at a research forum on the disability held in Chicago last month, who is unconnected to the Kennedy Krieger study.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in education. There should be a variety of options.

Resources:

  1. NCTM Focal Points and Singapore Math Curriculum
  2. Singapore Math FAQ
  3. What is Singapore Math?
  4. Where’s The Math

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©