P1007: Working memory, mathematics, and chemistry [WITHDRAWN]

Author: Eric A. Nelson, Retired


Date: 8/7/14

Time: 10:35 AM10:55 AM

Room: LTT 101

Related Symposium: S72

Cognitive science tells us that to be successful in general chemistry, students need to have “memorized to automaticity” the facts and procedures of math computation. This fluency in fundamentals is necessary to overcome the measured and proven limits of human working memory when dealing with information that has not been internalized and conceptually organized in an individual’s long-term memory. However, between 1990 and 2010, when the nature of working memory was poorly understood, most (but not all) US states imposed K-12 math standards on instruction that discouraged the memorization of math facts and procedures, and this has left most students in the current generation poorly prepared for the rigor and pace of college physical science courses. We will discuss the findings of cognitive science and state data on student computational skills and what can be done to improve student achievement and retention in introductory STEM courses.