[MATHLINK] MCLS 2020 Online November 13, 2020

Jo-Anne LeFevre joanne.lefevre at gmail.com
Thu Nov 12 11:44:46 CST 2020

Dear MCLS Community,
Please be sure to join us tomorrow, November 13 at 11am EST//4pm GMT for our next symposium, Problem-solving strategies in algebra: From lab to practice, organized by Jenny Yun-Chen Chan (Learning Sciences and Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute). She will be joined by Jeffrey Bye (Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota) and Jon Star (Graduate School of Education, Harvard University) with a discussion by Martha Alibali (Department of Psychology, UW-Madison). Abstract is below and link to join is here: https://pitt.zoom.us/j/91731612312 <https://pitt.zoom.us/j/91731612312> (Passcode MCLS2020).
Mark your calendars for our upcoming meetings!
Thursday, November 19 How environment shapes the mathematical brain: Influences of socioeconomic status, parental behaviors, and education (Organizer: Jérôme Prado)
Friday, November 27 No Meeting (US Thanksgiving)
Thursday, December 3 Fraction Interventions from Lab to Classroom (Organizer: Alexandria Viegut)
In order to become proficient in algebra, students must develop procedural knowledge for multiple problem-solving strategies, and the ability to identify and apply more efficient strategies (Star & Rittle-Johnson, 2008). Prior studies have demonstrated that algebra knowledge influences the development of strategy selection, flexibility, and efficiency (e.g., Newton et al., 2019). This symposium aims to enrich our understanding of problem-solving strategies in algebra by bringing together research conducted in an experimental lab setting (Bye et al.), with learning technology (Chan et al.), and through classroom interventions (Star et al.). We hope the presentations will stimulate conversations between research fields, and help advance our knowledge in basic and applied science to improve algebra learning.  
First, Bye and colleagues will present findings on students’ (in)flexibility in strategy choice for solving missing-operand algebra problems. Using a computer-based task, they measured undergraduates’ response time to solve missing-operand algebra problems (e.g., x + 3 = 5) and ‘decoded’ individual strategy choice by regressing on their time to verify arithmetic facts related to the direct, arithmetic pattern-matching strategy (e.g., 2 + 3 = 5) and to the inverse algebraic transformation strategy (e.g., 5 – 3 = 2). As validated by participant self-reports, they found individual differences in strategy preference (direct vs. inverse), particularly for larger problem sizes (e.g., 7 + 9 = 16).
Second, Chan and colleagues will present findings on the relation between pause time before solving problems and strategy efficiency in an online algebra learning platform. They will present two studies that examine the unique influences of pause time on strategy efficiency (i.e., solution steps). In ninth- (Study 1), sixth- and seventh-grade students (Study 2), they found that (a) longer pause time was associated with fewer steps taken to solve algebra problems; (b) percent pause time significantly predicted step efficiency beyond algebra knowledge, math self-efficacy, and math anxiety; and (c) algebra knowledge, math self-efficacy, or math anxiety did not moderate the relation between percent pause time and step efficiency. 
Third, Star and colleagues will present findings on the effects of comparing and discussing multiple strategies on students’ algebra learning. They will report the results of a year-long investigation of the effectiveness of a supplemental algebra curriculum that encourages comparison and discussion of multiple strategies. Sixteen Algebra I teachers (with their 550 students) implemented the supplemental curriculum, while 13 teachers (with their 498 students) served as a business-as-usual control group. Results suggest that using their curriculum encouraged teachers to compare multiple strategies, use small groups, and have mathematical discussions much more frequently than would have happened otherwise. These practices likely led to higher posttest scores, particularly for conceptual knowledge and flexibility, compared to business-as-usual instruction.
Finally, discussant Martha Alibali will highlight connections amongst the presentations, discuss how these findings can inform theories of algebra learning and development, and suggest future directions for research on this topic. 

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