Report is attacking discovery learning: What to Do about Canada’s Declining Math Scores

Last year I already reported on the possible negative effect of an educational reform in Quebec, the second most populated province in Canada. The reform was ambitious and universal and implemented in the early 2000’s on children’s mathematical ability throughout primary and secondary school.

But… the decline of the math results in Canada have been quite disastrous. A new report by Anna Stokke for the CW Howe institute discloses a clear culprit: “Canadian educators should abandon curricula and instruction premised upon the assumptions of discovery-based learning which examines mounting evidence that this approach seriously hampers math learning by students”.

Still, I don’t think this report will close the discussion once and for all…

From the report:

Based on international and domestic evidence, this Commentary finds that studies consistently show direct instruction is much more effective than discovery-based instruction, which leads to straightforward recommendations on how to tilt the balance toward best instructional techniques. Student fluency with particular math concepts, such as fraction arithmetic, in early and middle years has been shown to predict future math success. This Commentary recommends that provincial math curricula be rewritten to remove ineffective pedagogical directives and to stress specific topics, at appropriate grade levels, that are known to lead to later success in math. Evidence shows that teachers who are most comfortable and knowledgeable with the content they are required to teach tend to transmit that knowledge best to students. This Commentary suggests that future early and middle-years teachers be required to pass a math-content licensure exam prior to receiving certification to teach mathematics.

Read the full report here

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