Conquering the Pitfalls on the Pathway to Math Success

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Research shows that exposure to WestEd’s Math Pathways & Pitfalls curriculum can be transformative in moving students to a more confident and successful experience, and raising both standardized and project-administered test scores.

This article highlights Math Pathways & Pitfalls.

Each Math Pathways & Pitfalls lesson takes the unique approach of confronting misconceptions head-on. Students learn to analyze both correct and flawed ways of solving a problem. In order to build a sound conceptual understanding of the topic, students are first shown correct solutions and their justifications. 

They are then shown “pitfalls,” the most common misconceptions cited in research literature on student thinking, ones that are often used as distractors on state and national assessments.

The goal for presenting students with both correct and incorrect solutions isn’t for students to guess which one is right, but to enable them to understand and discuss why the correct answer works and why the reasoning behind the incorrect answer is flawed. 

The curriculum encourages students to explicitly examine and explain their mathematics thinking and processes.