Background Research

mem_vs_app

Source: http://hussainather.blogspot.com/2015/07/rhetoric-and-models-of-learning.html)

 

We began our research by looking up what concepts are usually taught in the fifth grade, particularly in math. As we looked through multiple curriculums we also ran into articles that talked about alternative methods of learning and mentioned many existing problems with current teaching methods. Something that particularly drew our attention was students’ difficulty understanding and applying order of operations. Currently, most schools teach this by having students memorize the acronym PEMDAS or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally in order to remember the first letter of each of the functions that should be performed and in what order.

 

670px-Solve-an-Equation-Using-PEMDAS-Step-1

Source: http://www.wikihow.com/Evaluate-an-Expression-Using-PEMDAS

 

However, many scholars agree that memorization is not the appropriate form of learning. Especially for the type of problems children are exposed to at this level. Most text books make up problems in order to force students to use order of operations rather than having them apply it to problems where it makes sense.

 

A student is showing his frustration at the example of the new math.

Source: http://mathchat.me/

 

These sort of problems appear later in the curriculum where students are already accustomed to the plug and chug methods rather than intuitive ones.