OVERVIEW

No matter how many of these appear on standardized tests, a large per cent of test takers continue to get these wrong. Teachers will teach that unit on combinations, permutations, Multiplication Principle and rules of probability. But learners will still struggle and even if they survive the chapter test, they will probably get the following problem wrong. But some of you may have overcome this...

THE PROBLEM

Six parking spots are assigned randomly to six employees. If Jake and Alex are 2 of these employees, what is the probability they will be assigned to the first 2 spaces?

(A) 1/60 (B) 1/30 (C) 1/15 (D) 1/6 (E) 1/3

Answer: (C)

REFLECTIONS

• It's so simple: (2/6) (1/5) = 1/15 Next...

Of course that would never happen in a classroom!

How much understanding of probability principles and practice is required to feel comfortable with this efficient approach? More importantly when would this approach fail or need to be revised?

• So is it combinations? Permutations! Do we also need the multiplication principle?

How much experience do students need before being able to write

(2P2) (4P4) ÷ (6P6)

• Those who have experience teaching these will have developed their favorite instructional strategies. Please share!

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