Math Students “Getting It”!

Samuel Simpson, Math Teacher, Rochester City School District

As a middle school and high school math teacher, I find that many of my students achieve success, with most passing Regent exams and taking higher level math courses. While many of my students achieved high grades, there appeared to be a disconnect with their understanding of complex concepts. I believe that if students solved complex homework problems correctly, their understanding of complex mathematical concepts would increase.
The focus of my action research was to answer the question, “if students had assistance completing their homework, would their homework accuracy and their understanding of complex concepts increase?”

To get students to solve complex homework, I decided to try two key strategies in my action research:

1) I would employ collaborative learning (in addition to my teaching they would need to teach each other) and

2) I would provide them with homework assistance.

I elected to utilize collaborative learning to capitalize on students’ knowledge, ideas, resources and skills. I wanted students to teach each other and to depend on and be accountable to each other.

After surveying the class, I provided students with my school and personal email address, and my personal cell phone number.  I encouraged them to contact me. I wanted students to be able to contact me in person, live over the phone, text, or via the internet. Because of the feedback from the student survey, I also started after school tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays.  I encouraged students to participate and provided snacks. In conjunction with the tutoring, I launch a website.

And the results… quite astonishing!  Read about them in my action research report, Homework Assistance and Conceptual Understanding in Pre-Calculus.



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