Breaking Barriers to College Math Success

February 15th, 2019


Math is the most commonly used skill in the universe by both learned and unlearned people. Acquiring math skills is as important as students acquiring extended essay ib skills. Math skill is meant to be acquired in school, but it is ironical that most students do not learn it effectively in school. Students are taught to memorize while skills on how to effectively absorb what they learn are not administered. Most methods of learning used in schools are actually barriers to effective math success. The question on where students will ever use math in real life lingers across lecture halls. Math skills are always presented through life to solve work-related problems and real-world related problems. Some examples include

  1. In construction, you need to estimate project costs in terms of measuring lengths, width, and amounts of construction materials needed.
  2. In the grocery store, you estimate amounts of groceries needed and multiply by how many people and how long they will last. Check the weights and figure out discounts given, math skills come in handy in your shopping experience.
  • In the kitchen, math is present in measuring cooking ingredients, tuning the cooking time, not to mention conversion of units from ml to tablespoons and teaspoons.
  1. In traveling, calculate the amount of fuel you need based on the distance and the consumption of your vehicle per hour, and the total amount of time you will be traveling.
  2. Saving money too requires strong math skills. When kids are involved in math lessons early in life they learn how to spend and save without frustrations even later in life.
  3. When managing the most valuable asset time. Have your calculations right to determine how much you can accomplish over what period of time? The value of time is determined by how it is spent.

However, there are methods which have proven highly effective in breaking barriers to math success, and any other subject, through extensive research conducted on each method. These methods are tested to assess the ability to improve student’s learning abilities in learners across a wide age group.

Method 1: Practice Testing

The method has been in research for over 100 years proven highly effective as one of the best ways for the mind to retain information. Practice tests do not mean that you get into an exam room to take a test, but it is easily incorporated in the life of a student. The tests help the student target to test anywhere, with anything and at any time. The tests are done without the aid of books, but one uses objects to practice the math skills. At this point, the student is allowed to use their favorite objects or items they are comfortable with. This method is most effective when a time has elapsed between the learning and testing. Researchers have come up with three main reasons as to why this method works

  1. Practice tests trigger an elaborate process which is stored in your memory and is associated with math skills.
  2. The facilities or objects used are effective mediators of encoding different math problems by targets and cues.
  3. Practice tests constantly help the mind to organize information to increase efficiency and speed when retrieving the information.

Method 2: Visual Presentation of Math

Researchers and mathematics educators have encouraged teachers to engage students in visual representations in math, which has proved effective in math learning. Visual learning activates the brain’s reasoning skills by retaining information and understanding math concepts. A study conducted in 2013, discovered that effective learning is accomplished when different parts of the brain are used in learning. Visual math using symbols uses a different part of the brain while the spatial information uses another part of the brain. When the visual and symbolic methods are used in learning, there is an exchange of information between two parts of the brain which activate reasoning fully optimizing math skills. Students miss out on opportunities to increase their understanding if they do not enable their minds to use different parts of the brain at the same time.

Method 3: Distributed Practice

Math is a practical subject which uses the brain, meaning that you cannot cram. However, to effectively retain memory distributed practice is applied. This means dividing math studies into intervals over time, which is an effective method of absorption and retention. Distributed practice switches in between focused and diffused mode of thinking giving the mind time to absorb what it has learned during the focused time. Spaced study sessions are very important in remembering what your mind has captured.

Research conducted in 1979 with three groups of students who were put on practice distribution method of learning. The first group had 6 study sessions distributed with 30 days while the second group had 6 study sessions with 1-day intervals between each session. The first group had an exam administered after the 6th session as well as the second group. The first group performed very well in the exam compared to the second group who performed average. A third group did practice daily without any day, lapsing and had an exam administered after 30 days, they performed worse than the first two groups.

Most school learning programs will not give you the luxury of having few study sessions in a month it is recommended that distributed practice is spaced out at intervals of at least 24 hours from the learning sessions.

Method 4: Student Engagement in Tasks

Learning tasks engage students in reasonable effort and time. Research conducted in 2003, found out that instead of repetitive tasks for students, teachers should go over practice with their students then release them to work independently while they monitor the students and provide help where needed. In this method, real-time coaching, explanations, modeling among other forms of assistance which aid in the vigorous task engagement development in students are offered. The skills of engaging in challenging tasks are in balance supporting student’s autonomy and providing a great level of acquiring skills.

Method 5: Active Math Curriculum for Student

The active math curriculum has aspects which allow students to own the learning process and participate in mental stimulation. Teachers assume the role of facilitators as students learn using demonstrations, games, debates, projects, case studies, just in time teaching and talking to peers. It has become easy to integrate active math curriculum with the use of Ed-tools, which are active learning techniques. Students choose tools and activities to come up with concepts that will get them math answers. For example, when students are faced with a problem they watch a video on how to solve it, then discuss in groups and if they are stuck they ask the teacher for help. Their mindset is changed from I don’t get it, to, am stuck here and I need help. This allows them to deeply think of the concepts and feel the need to own the process and the problem.

Why is the success in math important? The University of California had conducted a study back in 2007, in which they concluded that strong math skills are crucial for a student later in life. Those who had strong math skills were successful academically with positive student behaviors with good literacy skills. There are many other proven ways to break barriers in math success, but importantly these methods should help absorb, retain and be fast to retrieve the information acquired. It is easy to monitor progress using any proven method and if one doesn’t work you can adjust to another until you are comfortable with the one that will help you ace my paper.


Bio: Bio: Sebastian Miller is a former Calling Lake School science teacher. After 4 years of teaching, he decided to become a freelance writer. In Sebastian’s opinion, math is the core of all science and his goal is to enlight as many schoolers as possible through writing

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