Canadian student’s declining Math scores..

Came across this interesting report from CD Howe Institute based in Canada.

The authors raise concerns on the declining math scores in Canada. They suggest the way out is to change teaching habits that promote cramming instead of understanding. Just so similar to India:

Canadian educators should abandon curricula and instruction premised upon the assumptions of discovery-based learning, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report, which examines mounting evidence that this approach seriously hampers math learning by students. In “What to Do about Canada’s Declining Math Scores,” author Anna Stokke urges provinces to act quickly to improve the way mathematics is taught.

 Between 2003 and 2012, on exams administered to 65 jurisdictions by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, all but two Canadian provinces showed statistically significant declines in math scores. Another international assessment, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, also shows some troubling trends in Alberta, Quebec and Ontario.

 The author recommends encouraging teachers to follow an 80/20 rule favouring direct instructional techniques over discovery-based instructional techniques as studies consistently show that direct instruction is more effective.

 “Unfortunately the popularity of discovery-based instruction, which encourages inquiry learning typically through minimal teacher guidance and instruction through open-ended problems and projects, is squeezing out direct instruction methods, where students are directly taught concepts and given explicit explanations, followed by plenty of student practice,” states Stokke. “Proponents of either type of instruction generally agree that there are merits to using a balance of both approaches, but the specific balance is in dispute.”

 Stokke also recommends that math curricula be rewritten to stress important topics – like fraction arithmetic – at earlier grades and that future K-8 math teachers be required to complete a minimum of two math content courses while in university, and to pass a math licensure exam before they can obtain certification to teach mathematics.

 Stokke concludes: “The importance of mathematics in a knowledge- and technology-based economy, and the decline in Canadian students’ mathematics scores on international tests in recent years suggest that provincial governments should make the improvement of math curricula and instruction a priority.”

Why our learning has moved to such a cramming world?

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