Session S12 (Sunday, 2pm, Thomas 218)

P73: Common Core state K-12 standards, student test scores in math computation, and the implications for chemistry instruction

Eric Nelson (retired, USA)

Math computation is a background skill that students are often assumed to have acquired in classes prior to chemistry.  Is that assumption valid for the current generation of students?  Nearly all states have adopted the new “common core” math standards in grades K-12.  Will these standards improve student preparation for the math of chemistry?

This paper will present test score data, which show that student skills in math computation, such as mental arithmetic, algebraic manipulations, exponential math and logarithms, have decreased dramatically in most states, though scores in some districts have increased.   Differences in curriculum that may have contributed to those trends will be examined.  Instructional materials that have evidence of helping students to learn the math of chemistry will be noted.  The impact of computation skills on the “cognitive load” encountered while solving chemistry problems will also be discussed.


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