Sunday, 17 August 2008

Mastering Maths Using PDCA Cycle

When we talk about learning maths, we may know all the steps of the process involved. Steps like practice, understanding the topical concepts, linkage between concepts, various usage of mathematical tools, etc, can be well handled individually.

However, there may be cases of the results, after applying these learning steps, not meeting expectation. No marked improvement is seen after all the hard work.

What happened? What went wrong?

These are the very questions that this group of maths learners would ask.

The answer lies in the flow of the process. The execution of the learning cycle is important in reaping the desired targets. Random application of the learning steps on an ad-hoc basis may be the reason for the confusion in mastering the maths lessons.

To master maths, or any subject for that matter, we need a solid learning model. A model whereby we can follow through step-by-step, and also without any confusion. This learning model has also to be simple and specific.

One such model of learning is the PDCA model.

What is this PDCA about?

P stands for Plan.
D stands for Do.
C stands for Check.
A stands for Action.

This PDCA, therefore governs our steps in the learning process.

Let us dig more into this model.

Here, what we meant, is to plan for the topic to be mastered, the resources needed and the time frame, plus the desired outcome. This stage sets the goals where we need to achieve to consider mastery of the targeted maths topics.

Execution takes place here. It requires the application of the resources needed to meet all the objectives set forth in the Planning stage. Practicing of the maths questions, analysis of the steps and understanding of the mathematical concepts are captured in this learning stage. All scope within the topics has to be covered, preferably, here.

This is a critical step in the PDCA model. This is where we check for correct understanding of the mathematical concepts and procedures in getting the answers. Model answers to the given maths problems can be a reference here to confirm the solutions. In this checking stage, the question "Did the DO stage results in me getting the correct steps and answers?" is the key element to complete this part of the learning cycle. If there is any discrepancies in the solutions or answers, the next stage in the PDCA will be executed.

Action here is what the words literally means. Take action to rectify any hiccups in the understanding of the mathematical concepts and tools. Analysis of the problems involved is the main focus here. "What went wrong?" and "Why it happened?" are the type of questions to be addressed in this stage. The analysis has to be as detailed as possible in order to cover all areas including linkages to other maths concepts learnt previously. (A good source for information is our textbooks). ACTION stage is value-adding and accumulative in the learning process.

* After identifying the mistakes made, go back to the PLAN stage to revise the objectives for the second round or cycle.

Follow these 4 simple steps in the PDCA model to control your flow of thoughts while learning. It is a systematic approach to learning. This ensures that your learning will not jump at random doing things you deemed proper but which may not be the case.

PDCA is a recurring process which halts only when mastery of the maths topics occurred. All questions are then answered correctly with ease.

Give the PDCA learning model a try! Happy practicing with it.

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