Friday, February 29, 2008

The Polls are Closed and here are the results...

Thank you to all who voted in the MathNotations survey over the past month. It's only appropriate that the voting ended on February 29th. Guess we will have to wait 4 more years before we ask this same kind of question again!

Those of you who cast your vote saw the results at the time you voted, however, you might not have seen the final results. Also, our feed subscribers may not have seen the survey or the ongoing stats. At any rate, I want to make sure we all understand that, as mathmom pointed out early on, this or any other web survey does not constitute a scientific poll, i.e., we cannot draw firm or possibly any conclusions. Even though we collected 165 responses, here are some specific reasons why we have to be cautious:

(1) The wording of the question and the choices may have been ambiguous or unintentionally biased.
(2) I originally had (E) None of the above, but then decided to remove it. This choice might have picked up 10% or more. It may also have deterred several from actually voting as was suggested in the comments early on.
(3) There is certainly no basis for asserting the randomness of the sample we received. In fact, it is more likely those who voted tended to be those who have visited the site before and therefore might share sentiments similar to those of the author. This would surely skew the results.

In spite of all these reasons not to take the results too seriously, the distribution was decidedly 'normal!' About 3 out of every 4 votes were cast for the balanced choices (B) and (C), with (C) representing the greatest balance between traditional and reformed approaches, IMO. I lean toward (C) myself. Yes, I do recognize that the balanced choices were in the middle so it sets up a bell-shaped curve!



Which best describes your preference for teaching multidigit multiplication?


15% (A) Teach only the traditional algorithm and expect mastery

36% (B) Teach the 'partial products' method to develop understanding of place value and the traditional algorithm; teach the traditional algorithm as a more efficient method and require it; expect mastery

38% (C) Teach the 'partial products' method to develop understanding of the traditional algorithm; teach the traditional algorithm as a more efficient method; give students a choice of methods; expect mastery of at least one method

9% (D) Model other methods (e.g., 'lattice method') and encourage students to invent their own method; do not require any particular method or mastery

Obviously there's a 2% error here (these numbers were copied from the screen)! I'll let our readers try to figure out the software/math issue that led to this!

Your thoughts....

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