# Category: How people learn (or don’t)

Anything about how people learn — mostly how they learn maths — or how they get blocked from learning

#### Other(ing) Explanations

Most people who teach mathematics are aware that it’s useful to have alternative explanations for concepts, and useful to have different ways to approach problems. Given enough time, you are guaranteed to come across students for whom the standard explanation isn’t working today (as long as you give students a chance to tell you about […]

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#### Arbitrary mnemonics

A mnemonic is a mental trick to help you remember things. People use them all the time for all sorts of things, like the traditional colours of the rainbow (ROY G BIV), the order of the letters in the English alphabet (a song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), the order of operations […]

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#### Replacing

I have had many people say to me over the years, “But algebra is easy: just tell them to do the same thing to both sides!” This is wrong in several ways, not least of which is the word “easy”. The particular way it’s wrong that I want to talk about today is the idea […]

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#### Questions with a morally wrong answer

I think asking students questions is an important part of my job of helping students succeed. Good questions can help me see where they are in their journey so I can choose how to guide them to the next step, or can help to make clear the skills they already have that will help them […]

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#### Roosters don’t lay p-values

I’ve just started teaching an online course, and one module is a very very introductory statistics module. There are a couple of moments when we ask the students to describe how they interpret some hypothesis tests and p-values, and a couple of the students have written very lengthy responses describing all the factors that weren’t […]

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#### Twitter and how not to treat my students

I have learned a lot from Twitter about how to treat my students, and most of it has been through being treated in ways I do not like. Recently I have been searching my own tweets to find things I’ve said before, and as I’ve dipped into old conversations, several unpleasant feelings have resurfaced when […]

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#### The Operation Tower

I don’t like BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA and all of the variations on this theme. I much prefer to use something else, which I have this week decided to call “The Operation Tower”.

In case you haven’t heard of BODMAS/BEDMAS/PEMDAS/GEMS/GEMA, then you should know they are various acronyms designed to help students remember the order of operations that mathematics […]

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#### Teaching people to play SET on the fly

Amie Albrecht recently posted a most wonderful blog post about SET, and it reminded me there were some SET-related things I should post too.
The first is this little reflection on how I go about teaching people to play SET. Amie talks here about a very excellent way to do this, which is to get people […]

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#### Ten years

On the 23rd of July 2008, I started my first day as coordinator of the Maths Learning Centre at the University of Adelaide. Today is the 23rd of July 2018 — the ten year anniversary of that first day. (Well, it was the 23rd of July when I started writing this post!)
So much has happened in […]

#### Three hours in the MLC Drop-In Centre

Last week, I had one of those days in the MLC Drop-In Centre where I was hyper-aware of what I was doing as I was talking with students and by the end I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I had thought about. I decided that today I might attempt to process (or […]

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