Math Teachers: Showing Work?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BumbleB, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Do you make students show work for each problem, or do you only care that they get the right answer and don't worry so much about their "process"? Do you take points off on tests/quizzes if they don't show work? How much work is considered sufficient?

    I think my co-teacher and I differ a bit on our "showing work" beliefs. Just wondering what other people think....
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm grade three...I like kids to show their work. I like kids to write equations too, not just put answers. I don't take off points, I just write 'show your work'. In problem solving I ask students to show their thinking in words, picture (diagram, talles, table, etc) and numbers.
     
  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    I like students to show their work. This shows how they got their answers. (i.e. equations, pictures, tables..etc.) I don't accept their homework or quizzes without work. If they don't show their work they have to redo the assignment showing their work. There are a few exceptions to this rule for items such as mental math.
     
  5. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    I award points for showing each step of the equation, as well as for the correct answer. There have been situations where students have only received a 50% on an assignment because all the answers were correct, but no work was shown. They learn pretty quick.

    Showing how they reached their answers is as important to me as getting the answer right. If they aren't getting the right answers I want to know where they are having difficulties.
     
  6. Barbd

    Barbd Rookie

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    As a middle school math teacher, showing work is vital in the later grades. The quicker the kids pick it up, the easier it is down the road. If work isn't shown, you have no way of knowing where the problem is so you can correct it. One thing my host teacher said to me during student teaching has stuck with me: Practice makes permanent. If students incorrectly keep doing something, it's going to stick, even if it's wrong.

    Most higher math teachers (Algebra - Calculus) will give partial points for an incorrect answer if work is shown (assuming the mistake is a minor one, which it usually is with arithmetic or signage). Every problem has at least 2 points: 1 for work, 1 for a correct answer. You can get 1/2 credit for an incorrect problem, but you'll also get 1/2 credit for a correct problem with no work. I usually give a few weeks of warnings until the kids get the hang of it and then let them know from a certain point, work WILL be counted.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    If I was teaching math i would definitely ask the students to show work, and would give points for them. Several reasons:
    - you know they didn't just copy homework. Yes, they can copy the entire thing, work included, but in that case they actually learn something, as opposed to just copying answers
    - you can pinpoint where the problem is
    - students can actually get partial points, so their homework / classwork grade can be A-F (including b and C) as opposed to just A or F (because they either got it correctly or not. Depending on how much classwork or homework counts as part of the grade, they can really bring it down.
    - students should see this as a huge benefit. Here is a complicated problem that is worth 6 points: the student does everything right, all logic and operations is in place, but he makes a simple multiplication error. He gets 5 questions out of 6, because everything else he did was right. If they don't get points for work, he gets 0. Big difference/
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    No work = no points. It only took one student getting a zero on a test, even though all the answers were correct, for the rumor mill to get going strong and for me to never have a problem getting students to do their work again.

    Math is not all about the answer, it's about the process. When we teach algebra, we're not just teaching algebra. We're teaching logic, problem solving and critical thinking. Most students are going to leave their formal education and never use formal algebra again, but they'll use the concepts. They'll need the critical thinking skills and they'll need the logic.
     
  9. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Ok, so let's say that the problem involves solving an incomplete proportion through cross multiplying....

    A student sets up the proportion perfectly and writes it down on the test. Then, he does the arithmetic in his calculator (doesn't write that down). He writes down the final answer (the missing number in the proportion).

    Does he get credit? Partial credit? No credit?

    I realize this is all subjective according to teacher beliefs and values, but again....I am curious as to how others grade.
     
  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    It depends. If the student is first learning this method, I would require he/she show their work and not accept the work if it doesn't have work. (Just like you wouldn't accept 1/2 a hamburger at McDonalds if you ordered a whole one.)

    After the students get the method and show you, then many of your math whizzes will be able to do proportions in their head. I would let them do this. With this type of math, it might be better to allow this to encourage mental math for those who can do it and NOT show their work as they could do it all in their head. If they have to use a calculator (which personally I wouldn't allow for this type of math), then I would insist that they write down what they entered in their calculator.
     
  11. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I teach Grades 7, 8 and 9 Math. I've got two different grading scales - my 7s and 8s are on an A,B,C,D scale and my 9s are marked numerically.

    For my 7s and 8s, I don't accept anything if they haven't shown their work. However, I don't assign credit to work shown.

    For my 9s, I do assign credit to work shown. I am very clear in my instructions to them and I always note how much a question is worth. For example, last semester we were adding polynomials. In my instruction, I told them I wanted them to identify the like terms, regroup the like terms, add them and circle their final answer. I also told them each problem was worth 4 points - one point for each correct step. I had one student get VERY upset with me because he chose to not show his work and it dropped his mark to the low 70s. Had he shown his work properly, he would have gotten a 90-ish. Oh well. He learned quickly that following directions is key.
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    What counts as "work" depends on what skills I'm assessing. In the example given above, I'm assessing my students' ability to set up and solve proportions, not their ability to do multiplication. They set up the proportion. That's the work.
     
  13. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I taught physics last year and showing work would be a lot of the points. Like if a problem was worth 10 points, 6 points would be showing work, 2 points would be writing down the correct info from the problem (I call it an "info box"), 1 point would be the correct # answer, and 1 point would be the correct unit answer. It's very easy to type something wrong into a calculator and get the wrong answer, so I like to give credit for showing the work.
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    But they have to solve for the missing number, and that process relies on the student's ability to do multiplication correctly. So where do you draw the line?
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Multitudinous

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    mm's point is precisely that where one draws the line depends on just what one is assessing. If calculator use is permitted, then one isn't assessing for multiplication skills. If calculator use isn't permitted, then multiplication skills are being assessed.
     
  16. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Would you still expect the student to outline their steps for solving (1st cross multiply, then divide, etc) or would just the completed proportion and the answer be sufficient?
     
  17. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    I give full credit for correct answers, even if no work is shown (I know I'm probably in a minority for that) unless I specifically state that work must be shown for the problem, BUT they can't get any partial credit that way. So even if I know it was just a sign error (i.e. -4 instead of 4), they lose everything for no work.
     
  18. mathmagic

    mathmagic Habitué

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    I whole-heartedly believe in having kids show their work as much as possible. It provides both them and us an opportunity to find and remedy their mistakes. This is especially mentioned to them when they are taking quizzes or things that I will be correcting outside of class time. In addition, there's an extra level of understanding that can take place if students can explain their thinking. That being said, if I see a student is independent and successful (showing mastery) with the work they are doing, I may occasionally ask them to explain their thinking to me, but won't necessarily require they show each step. Instead, I'll use that time to provide them opportunities to extend their learning (other activity) or deepen their understanding (working with other students in the classroom to help them / giving them an additional hypothetical question)

    (disclaimer/note - this comes form the perspective of a sub in elementary, though with a half-dozen week longs and lots of repeats especially in two neighboring classrooms)
     
  19. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    I teach second grade and am very picky about them showing their work. I often say that I do not care about the answer but how each child got there!
     
  20. mathmagic

    mathmagic Habitué

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    I used to say this all the time too - though I've stepped back a bit, realizing that getting the right answer truly is important, and they should feel as such. Instead, I tell them that I absolutely love when they make mistakes (if it was a true mistake and not one on purpose / done because they were rushing / etc...), so long as they learn from that mistake - and it often comes back to seeing the mistake in their work. It's true, though, that the answer is the end result of a bunch of work (either in your head or on paper) - and thus that work can be vital when they are not yet at mastery.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I would expect a proportion problem to look like this:

    2/6 = 4/x
    2x = 24
    x=12
     

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