Taken very literally, not all students are created equal—especially in their math learning skills, say Texas A&M University researchers who have found that not fully understanding the “equal sign” in a math problem could be a key to why U.S. students underperform their peers from other countries in math.
Here comes an example:
“Students who have learned to memorize symbols and who have a limited understanding of the equal sign will tend to solve problems such as 4+3+2=( )+2 by adding the numbers on the left, and placing it in the parentheses, then add those terms and create another equal sign with the new answer,” he explains. “So the work would look like 4+3+2=(9)+2=11."
“This response has been called a running equal sign—similar to how a calculator might work when the numbers and equal sign are entered as they appear in the sentence,” he explains.
I wonder how this compares to Canadian students. When I was studying math at university I met a lot of Asians, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Russians and Poles but not many Canadian-born math students. Just what is it about the mathematics curriculum or instruction that makes many North Americans loath the subject by the time they're going off to university?