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I had a student in Calculus today ask why
I said, “that’s a fair question, let’s check it out.”
As I wrote the following stuff on the board I was explaining how squared means to multiply by itself. I also talked about 3x being 3 times x. She had a quizzical look on her face so I continued with another example. Finally she said, “I don’t want to hold everyone up so don’t worry about it.” I said, “this is kind of important and they don’t have anything better to do.” So, I did one more example and she said, “I still don’t get how the 3 becomes a 9.” I finally showed . I’m still not sure she gets the idea, and I’m really not sure what else I can do to help her. She has been doing ok with the Calculus concepts. A student teacher in the building suggested either or to use as examples. These seem like a good next attempt, but what in the world is going on that a Calculus student doesn’t understand this basic algebra concept even after a straightforward explanation?
Here are my two main questions:
How in the world did she make it to this point?
What does she fundamentally not understand?