Quick links – entitled kids, Moody’s on MOOCs, learn fractions before algebra

by Grace

—  Do kids today have a heightened sense of entitlement?

Ann Althouse wrote about a mother seeking advice on how to handle her “daughter’s ongoing disappointment” because her dream college was unaffordable.  Althouse recalls her own situation about 40 years ago when she felt bad about having to attend a public university instead of a more expensive private college.

My parents paid all my college expenses, and the notion of taking loans to make up the difference never came up. It was a different culture back then, at least at my house. You understood that you bought what you could afford, and it showed bad character to mope about it, and you didn’t want to be ungrateful or selfish. And if I had crossed the line into a display of such bad character traits, my parents would never have considered writing to an advice columnist about what to do about their complaining, ungrateful daughter who won’t value what is good about the college we are able to pay for….

The culture has truly tipped, with everyone feeling entitled to things they can’t pay for and assuming somebody else over there will pay somehow, some time, and I shouldn’t have to think about them.

This reminds me of a line I learned from another parent that I used with my kids when they were little.

You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

—  Moody’s on MOOCs

A new report by Moody’s Investors Service suggests that while MOOCs’ exploitation of expanded collaborative networks and technological innovation will benefit higher education in the United States as a whole, their long-term effect on the for-profit sector and smaller not-for-profit institutions could be damaging.

Moody’s takes the perspective of how MOOCs affect credit rating – good for elites, not so much for lower tier colleges and for-profit schools.

In the end, elite institutions are positioned to capitalise most effectively on the MOOC platform, by increasing their global presence and deriving greater credit benefits from new markets. Those institutions with limited brand identities, however, will have to compete more intensively to retain – or develop – a competitive edge.

MOOCs – The revolution has begun, says Moody’s (University World News)

—  Knowledge of fractions and division predicts success in algebra

Elementary school students’ knowledge of fractions and division uniquely predicts their high school mathematics achievement, even after controlling for a wide range of relevant variables, suggesting that efforts to improve mathematics education should focus on improving students’ learning in those areas.

Siegler, R. S., Duncan, G. J., Davis-Kean, P. E., Duckworth, K., Claessens, A., Engel, M., Susperreguy, M. I., & Chen, M. (2012). Early predictors of high school mathematics achievement. Psychological Science, 23, 691-697

Knowledge of fractions and division at age 10-12 was determined by testing students’ computational proficiency.

This finding is consistent with the recommendations of the 2008 National Mathematics Advisory Panel Final Report.

Fluency with Fractions. Before they begin algebra course work, middle school students should have a thorough understanding of positive as well as negative fractions. They should be able to locate positive and negative fractions on a number line; represent and compare fractions, decimals, and related percent; and estimate their size. They need to know that sums, differences, products, and quotients (with nonzero denominators) of fractions are fractions, and they need to be able to carry out these operations confidently and efficiently. They should understand why and how (finite) decimal numbers are fractions and know the meaning of percent. They should encounter fractions in problems in the many contexts in which they arise naturally, for example, to describe rates, proportionality, and probability. Beyond computational facility with specific numbers, the subject of fractions, when properly taught, introduces students to the use of symbolic notation and the concept of generality, both being integral parts of algebra….

Difficulty with the learning of fractions is pervasive and is an obstacle to further progress in mathematics and other domains dependent on mathematics, including algebra. It also has been linked to difficulties in adulthood, such as failure to understand medication regimens. Algebra I teachers who were surveyed for the Panel as part of a large, nationally representative sample rated students as having very poor preparation in “rational numbers and operations involving fractions and decimals” (see Panel-commissioned National Survey of Algebra Teachers, National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008).

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