Vol. 23 No. 1 (2013)

Data-Driven Intervention: Correcting Mathematics Students' Misconceptions, Not Mistakes

Published 2015-05-01


In an age when reform is based on standards and instruction is based on research, this article gives practical advice for how mathematics teachers can analyze errors in student problems to create interventions that aid not only the individual’s development, but the entire class’s as well. By learning how to correct mathematics students’ misconceptions, rather than their mistakes, teachers have the potential to both target more students and increase those students’ conceptual understanding of the topic at hand. From the post-test scores on the Common / Habitual Algebra Student Misconceptions – Function Families (CHASM) , a tool used to assess teachers’ function family content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge that was given after a three-day, overnight professional development workshop, , teachers averaged a 43% improvement in their ability to identify the common misconceptions present in students’ scenario test example problems and in creating suitable interventions for that misconception. This article (a) highlights the results found from ten Algebra teachers’ use of this pedagogical skill after a three-day overnight workshop entitled Teaching Algebra Concepts through Technology (TACT2), (b) identifies and categorizes misconceptions, and (c) provides pedagogical intervention support for correcting misconceptions rather than errors. As one teacher commented, “A minor (pedagogical) tweak resulted in a major revelation.”