Researchers at Southern Methodist University have found that personalizing algebra word problems to students' interests can improve their performance. The researchers surveyed ninth-graders about their interests in sports, music and movies, and the students who received personalized story problems solved them faster and more accurately than students who did not receive questions tailored to their interests. "The whole thing with algebra for kids is they say, 'This isn't relevant to me.' Making it relevant in any way is a good thing," said Michael Shaughnessy, a mathematics and statistics professor at Portland State University in Oregon.
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