The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #6/2007

The Mathematics of Estimation: Possibilities for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy and Social Consciousness

Bharath Sriraman
The University of Montana

Libby Knott
The University of Montana

Harry Adrian
Ottawa, Illinois


The purpose of this article is to report on the importance of providing pre-service and in-service teachers with experience and specific training in critical thinking skills. The essential concepts in elementary mathematics curricula can be augmented to include and cultivate critical thinking skills that have tremendous ramifications for future leaders and for those who move on to more technical training. A sample problem, along with pre-service teacher responses, is used here to show the necessity of and importance of this kind of training because the responses show clear evidence of a certain naiveté on the part of these college level students. The responses do show evidence of budding social conscience in these students, but the level of expertise in critical thinking is not at all sophisticated. We discuss and explore the implications of our approach.

Keywords: critical thinking; Fermi estimates; interdisciplinarity; pre-service teachers; social consciousness

AMS Subject Classification: 97

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