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Jon Anderson Darren Wiberg SYNTHETIC FACTORING: A STUDENT CENTERED APPROACH IN FACTORING TRINOMIALS

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FACTORING Factoring is a difficult concept for Beginning and Intermediate Algebra students to understand and master In particular, students can find it difficult to factor trinomials that do not begin with a 1. Many methods already exist that attempt to teach students how to factor these trinomials Trial and Error Factoring by Grouping The Box Method And others While these methods work, we have found that students struggle to learn and master using them

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INTRODUCING SYNTHETIC FACTORING Synthetic Factoring has the following advantages for students: Takes advantage of a student’s prior knowledge of simplifying fractions Can be done quickly while still showing all work Can accurately find factors of difficult trinomials Can find the zeros of factorable quadratic polynomials quickly Can be used to factor any factorable trinomial, allowing students to learn only a single, easy to learn method Provides a mathematically sound method for factoring they can use in future math courses Increases students’ confidence in their ability to factor

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INTRODUCING SYNTHETIC FACTORING Synthetic Factoring also benefits the teacher in many ways. It allows teachers: the ability to show all work while factoring any trinomial, including those found in complicated rational expressions to work through more examples in class with students following along to teach a single method for factoring to cover factoring trinomials in a single lecture period without harming the students’ ability to learn to teach a mathematically sound method

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INTRODUCING SYNTHETIC FACTORING

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EXAMPLES OF SYNTHETIC FACTORING

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING Students have responded positively to Synthetic Factoring In an initial survey performed in Fall 2010 of 54 students found in Beginning and Intermediate Algebra: 36 said they favored Synthetic Factoring 6 said they favored Trial and Error 9 said they favored Factoring by Grouping

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING Of the 36 who favored Synthetic Factoring: 25 said they had a high degree of confidence in their ability to factor 6 said they had a decent degree of confidence in their ability to factor 1 said they had a low degree of confidence in their ability to factor Of the 6 students who favored Trial and Error 5 said they had a decent degree of confidence in their ability to factor 1 said they had a low degree of confidence in their ability to factor Of the 9 students who favored Factoring by Grouping 3 said they had a high degree of confidence in their ability to factor 4 said they had a decent degree of confidence in their ability to factor 2 said they had a low degree of confidence in their ability to factor

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING Quotations from students after being shown Synthetic Factoring in Fall 2010: “The factoring method I use is the [Synthetic Factoring] method. It’s super quick and easy. I also felt that it helped me simplify fractions!” “If I had learned this method in High School, I would have passed [math] in High School!” “It’s simple and clean when written out so I don’t get confused by so many things going on at once.” “My favorite method is the [Synthetic] factoring method. I find it faster for me. Also, I was able to memorize the steps quickly.” “I love the [Synthetic Factoring] way. It’s simpler to me; my brain recognizes it. I love plugging in the answers!”

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING Another survey was performed in Fall 2011 of 46 students. This survey measured the following questions: 1.Synthetic factoring has increased the speed of which I can factor trinomials. 2.Synthetic factoring has increased the accuracy of which I can factor trinomials. 3.Synthetic Factoring is easy to learn. 4.I was able to grasp and understand the synthetic factoring method the first time it was shown to me. 5.My confidence for factoring trinomials has increased since learning synthetic factoring. 6.I like the fact that I only have to learn one technique for factoring any type of trinomial. 7.I feel that synthetic factoring is easier to remember than other methods I have learned.

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING QuestionStrongly Agree AgreeDisagreeStrongly Disagree 1. Speed75.6%24.4%0% 2. Accuracy62.6%37.8%0% 3. Easy to learn75.6%22.2%2.2%0% 4. Learn first time60.0%37.8%2.2%0% 5. Confidence55.6%44.4%0% 6. Only one method 71.1%29.5%2.2%0% 7. Easy to remember 70.5%29.5%0%

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STUDENT THOUGHTS ON SYNTHETIC FACTORING Comments from the Fall 2011 survey: “This method is amazing and has helped me to like factoring a lot more than I used to.” “I have not learned any other form that I can remember. But, using the Synthetic Factoring is really useful and helpful to me. I used this method in [my Beginning Algebra course] and still remembered it a year later. I love this method!” “This method is great because prior to this, I was unable to factor most of the time. This allows me to get it right every time the first time.” “I use [Synthetic factoring] every time since I learned [it]!” “Before, factoring with a coefficient besides 1 in front of x made no sense, but synthetic factoring immediately clicked.” “It’s hard to learn and to get if you don’t know your multiplication tables.”

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FACULTY RESPONSE From the beginning, the thing that has most impressed us is the speed with which we can teach factoring. It only takes one day to teach factoring trinomials, regardless of form. Have seen students’ tests scores increase because of Synthetic Factoring over the last year and a half. Several other faculty members have used this method in their courses, adding it along side the other methods presented in the books. This is being considered for inclusion into Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and Beginning and Intermediate Algebra text books.

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FACTORING TEST RESULTS The following is a comparison of High School students and College students taking a Live Interactive Intermediate Algebra course from UVU. The first class consists of 149 students taking a test in Fall of 2009, before we began teaching Synthetic Factoring. The second class consists of 204 students taking a test in Fall of 2010, after we began teaching Synthetic Factoring. The third class consists of 110 students taking a test in Fall of 2011, also after we began teaching Synthetic Factoring. Each class was given problems to factor as part of an exam.

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FALL 2010Problem 1Problem 2Problem 3Problem 4 Correct86.46%81.25% 75.00% Partial Credit11.98% 14.58%19.79% Incorrect1.56%6.77%4.17%5.21% FALL 2009Problem 1Problem 2Problem 3Problem 4 Correct70.47%52.35%62.42%34.90% Partial Credit24.16%44.97%30.20%51.68% Incorrect5.37%2.68%7.38%13.42% FACTORING TEST RESULTS FALL 2011Problem 1Problem 2Problem 3Problem 4 Correct92.70%90.00%86.40%80.90% Partial Credit3.6% 10.9%13.6% Incorrect3.6%6.4%2.7%5.5%

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USING SYNTHETIC FACTORING TO SOLVE QUADRATIC EQUATIONS

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FURTHER IMPLICATIONS OF SYNTHETIC FACTORING

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PROOF OF SYNTHETIC FACTORING

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QUESTIONS? Contact us at: Darren Wiberg: wibergdb@uvu.eduwibergdb@uvu.edu Jonathan Anderson: jonathana@uvu.edujonathana@uvu.edu

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