Wrong Answers in Developmental Math

This is the second of two posts on the role that wrong answers can play in the algebra classroom. The student in a developmental math class generally doesn’t react in either of the two ways described in my previous post.
Developmental Math is not formulaic

Wrong Answers — Student Perspectives II

It is easy to picture the developmental classroom as being filled with undirected young slackers who just didn’t try hard enough when they were taught algebra the first time around in public school. Clearly this is the theory of the many state legislators around the country who are restricting funds for developmental education in their post-secondary education systems.

Ask a developmental education instructor, though, and what you will consistently hear is, “Our students have complicated lives.” Whatever the back story of an adult learner sitting in a remedial pre-algebra class, you can be pretty certain that some aspects of their current situation are not that pretty. Most of them are making an extraordinary effort to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

So, while the instructor is up there at the board, working through that hard one, a thousand things unrelated to the correct math process are probably running through the students’ minds. Continue reading