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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Odd Answers are in the Back

I have recently been contracted by a local publisher to proofread some of their math textbooks before they go to print. It is actually a lot of fun. Basically, I am getting paid to do middle school level algebra problems. Occasionally, I recommend sweeping changes to the text, and I wanted to run some of them by my readers to see what you think.

First, on the subject of quadratic functions, if the guided example demonstrates how to find the vertex of a parabola written in standard form, do feel as I do that it is exceedingly cruel to give the students an entire page of functions written in vertex form.

Second, on the same subject, when the guided example shows how to find the vertex from the vertex form, do you think it is unreasonable to give an example like f(x) = 2(3x-2)^2 + 4? Nowhere in the example does it discuss how to handle this case or describe a horizontal compression. I recommended either removing these exercises or added an additional example to show the students what to do.

What would you have done?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. Students get lost, frustrated, and annoyed (leading to further math anxiety/alienation) when given exercises that are too dissimilar from the examples provided, which seems like a reasonable reaction to me. I think adding horizontal compression without an explanation certainly qualifies as too dissimilar for most students of this level.