Making the Most of Mistakes: Math Pathways & Pitfalls Improves Student Learning

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Learn from mistakes. That’s good advice, whether coming from business gurus or seasoned parents. But it is advice rarely applied in the typical elementary mathematics lesson, where there is so much pressure to get the “right” answer that teachers usually avoid dwelling on students’ errors.

 And, according to research behind WestEd’s Math Pathways & Pitfalls (MPP) initiative, this typical approach misses important opportunities for learning. 

 Research on MPP has found that teachers can modify how they usually teach mathematics and significantly boost students’ achievement.

 While MPP’s instructional practices have been found helpful to all students, its emphasis on the support of verbal and symbolic language is proving especially effective when it comes to boosting the math achievement of English learners.