The Benefits of Using Pencil and Paper in Math
One of the most visible changes in math education over the past 20 years has been the shift towards using computers. Many students in middle schools now see their homework problems on screens via tools like ASSISTments and Khan Academy and submit their solutions through screens, too.
This shift towards technology comes with some significant advantages, but this technological shift also comes with disadvantages. Sometimes students don’t benefit from two technological tools used by many generations of mathematicians, engineers, and scientists to work through problems: paper and pencil.
With the support of the Reboot Foundation, Bill Hinkley, a veteran math teacher, used the math program ASSISTments to explore how his students use paper and pencil when solving math problems, exploring the value of students showing their work. Using a randomized controlled trial Hinkley found intriguing results in student outcomes when students wrote down their math problem using a pencil and paper.