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Let the words lead you to the formula!!

on May24 2007

basic math formulaIf I have a craving for Granny’s (my husband’s grandma) ham balls I wouldn’t dare even make my shopping list without first consulting the recipe card that was handed down to me some time after my husband and I got married. The same goes for a couple of other hallowed recipes that calm my husband in times of anxiety.

math formula I was thinking the other day about how much like recipes formulas are. So much alike, in fact, that I would say that recipe could be a synonym for formula. And yet, it seems that the formula sheet is the last place that my students turn for help instead of the first.

When one is doing any statistics there are formulas close at hand. I urge you to turn first to the formulas before throwing your hands up in the air and pronouncing that statistics is for the birds. The type of variables that you are describing or comparing will decide what type of analysis needs to be done and from there the formulas follow closely. (e.g. linear regression analysis, categorical data analysis, etc.) So, let the words of the problem lead you to the correct formula to use for your data analysis.

The only other major difficulty that I see in the classroom is a fear of multiple variables in an equation or formula. This is an Algebra problem and another topic for another day.

Part of my interests are pathway difficulties. These are roughly paraphrased as the obstacles that students come up against (be it for any number of reasons) that keep them from moving from one concept to another. I plan to use recipes in my lectures about using the formula sheet from now on. I will report back on any feedback that I get from students.

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