


02182013, 08:02 AM


Habitué


Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 916


Math Teachers: Showing Work?
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 coteacher and I differ a bit on our "showing work" beliefs. Just wondering what other people think....

02182013, 08:08 AM


Multitudinous


Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 21,671
New Jersey
Grade 3


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.

02182013, 08:27 AM


Enthusiast


Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2,376
AZ
5th Grade Teacher


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.

02182013, 08:31 AM


Habitué


Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 817
5th Grade


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.

02182013, 09:47 AM


Novice


Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 76
Delaware
Middle & High School Math


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.

02182013, 10:06 AM


Aficionado


Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 3,459
Central Valley of California
High School English (Alt. Ed.)


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 AF (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/

02182013, 10:19 AM


Moderator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,190
The land of fun and sun
Former math teacher


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.
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02182013, 11:09 AM


Habitué


Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 916


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.

02182013, 11:25 AM


Enthusiast


Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2,376
AZ
5th Grade Teacher


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.

02182013, 11:26 AM

Habitué


Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 776
Canada


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 90ish. Oh well. He learned quickly that following directions is key.

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