Today’s Learning Quotient Question: June 18, 2012
Q. We should never encourage children to guess at the answer to a mathematical problem—they should wait to respond until they have figured out the exact solution.
A. False. Estimation is a valuable skill, one that’s correlated with general numerical understanding and with math achievement test scores. It’s useful even when the learner does go on to calculate an exact sum: when children estimate the answer to a problem before solving it, they’ll have a better sense of whether their ultimate answer is in the right ballpark. Adults can help children develop estimation skills by asking playful questions (“How many miles do you think it is from home to school? From home to Grandma’s house?”) and even by playing board games like Chutes and Ladders, which help kids develop their sense of a number line.
Further reading: Siegler, R. S. & Ramani, G. (2006). Early development of estimation skills. APS Observer, 19(5), 34. Read the full text here.
You may also be interested to read my recent column on Time.com, “Why Guessing Is Undervalued,” which you can read here.
About your Learning Quotient: Research on the science of learning demonstrates that it’s not some innate intelligence that determines how well you learn, but how much you know about how learning works. Instead of IQ, think LQ: your Learning Quotient. Each day on the Brilliant Blog I’ll be offering a question meant to test your LQ—and an answer meant to raise it. A full-fledged Learning Quotient Quiz is in the works, so stay tuned!