Mathematics teachers encouraged to focus on traditional teaching methods

Inquiry-based learning involves teachers starting with different scenarios, questions, and problems for students to navigate, rather than directly presenting information or instructions.

“By helping teachers replace trendy, unevidenced practices with proven and effective teaching methods, student achievement improves,” Powell said.

The report argues in favor of explicitly teaching students mathematics skills first, and then encouraging independent practice and application of the skills.

“While some students may succeed in true inquiry-based learning, their success is the exception rather than the norm,” the report states.

But Professor Vince Geiger, director of STEM research at the Catholic University of Australia, says teachers should be able to incorporate both explicit teaching and inquiry-based learning into their teaching. He said his research paper appeared to reflect a very specific point of view.

“It amazes me when people present these ideas side by side,” he said. “The best teachers I know take the position that you need to do some of both.”

Geiger said the PISA results show that Australian students lack reasoning and problem-solving skills, not procedural mathematics skills.

“We have to equip children with adaptive thinking. We need to be able to apply what they learn in the classroom to different situations and contexts and real-world situations,” he said. said. “Explicit education alone will not get you there.”

Debates over the merits of inquiry-based mathematics learning and explicit education divide the profession In recent discussions about a proposed new national curriculum in Australia.

Phil Waldron, head of mathematics at Northholm Grammar School, said his school emphasized direct instruction, with every step of a math problem being modeled directly by teachers for students, resulting in excellent results. said to be producing


“This report reinforces the notion that student understanding is developed by teachers, and that teachers take students’ knowledge for granted, and therefore it is easy to miss a step of instruction,” he said. .

“The problem with inquiry-based learning is that students are often forced to figure it out for themselves, and it’s all based on their prior and contextual understanding.

“You always need a foundation. You can’t start with inquiry. Students need some understanding before they can start thinking for themselves.”

Waldron says inquiry-based learning was promoted as a best practice during teacher training at the university.

“I was blessed with a professional experience that was a bit the opposite of what I had when I graduated from college,” he said. “And now the evidence shows that what these old staff members were doing is actually the best way to go.”

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Mathematics teachers encouraged to focus on traditional teaching methods

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