Research-Based Strategies for Teaching Multiplication Facts

Teacher writing multiplication on board.
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According to the "Mathematics Education Research Journal," the ability to master basic mathematical computations is the key to success with higher level math problems. Rote memorization, also know as drilling, was once a widely used instructional strategy for teaching math facts. According to the "New York Times Magazine," research indicates that drills can be effective if used creatively or in tandem with other strategies. New strategies have emerged to help students master their multiplication facts.

Count-By Method

The count-by method requires the student to say or count a times table aloud to arrive at the answer to the multiplication problem. For example, if the problem is "3 x 4," the student will say, "3, 6, 9, 12" to determine that 3 multiplied by 4 equals 12. They can also say, "4, 8, 12" to arrive at the same answer. Essentially, the student is using his ability to "count by" the number to solve the multiplication problem. According to the "Mathematics Education Research Journal," the count-by method has been proven to increase multiplication fact fluency among fourth grade students with learning disabilities.

Time Delay Method

The time delay method requires the teacher to present the student with flash cards that represent multiplication equations. If the student hesitates to respond, or is unsure, the teacher offers assistance in timed intervals. For example, after the flash card is presented, the teacher may wait two seconds before giving the student the answer, then gradually increase the time she waits to assist, thus giving the student more time to respond on his own. The multiplication flash cards are presented in random order to decrease the possibility that the student will memorize the correct responses. The goal is that, through repetition, the student will eventually be able to respond immediately and accurately without the assistance of the teacher.

Strategy Instruction

Strategy instruction allows the teacher to help the student develop strategies for solving multiplication problems. Strategies such as drawing a picture or using a manipulative, such as chips, to represent a math problem helps students to visualize the math concept and make it more tangible. For example, to solve the multiplication problem "3 x 4," the student can draw a set of three circles four times then count the total number of circles.

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