Differences Between Traditional Math Instruction And A Problem Based Instructional Model

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This paper will explore some of the major differences between traditional math instruction and a problem-based instructional model. These models are defined largely by characteristics such as classroom environment, learning goals, teachers’ roles and whole-group approaches. I will address each of these topics more thoroughly throughout this paper and conclude by sharing some of my personal thoughts and goals regarding these two instructional approaches as they relate to the teaching of math. In a traditional math classroom, students are likely to sit in rows and work independently on assignments which mirror a concept that the teacher has just demonstrated for them. There is a strong emphasis put on memorizing facts though drill tactics. Students are expected to follow specific procedures, including algorithms. According to Mhlolo, the back-to-basics movement argues “that critical thinking and problem solving are based on well-learnt hierarchically lower-level concepts which in some cases are only developed through rote learning” (Mhlolo, 2014). On the other hand, Kohn calls rote learning "robotic calculation" and states that "educators are constantly finding examples of how kids can do calculations without really knowing what they 're doing” (Kohn, 1999). Problem-based instruction looks quite a bit different. Most notable, is the fact that students work to solve real-world problems rather than solving worksheets full of identical equations. Students are also
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