In June Dan Meyer posted Your GPS is Making You Dumber and What that Means for Teaching. In it he makes the argument that providing step by step instructions for math concepts results in students being able to get from point A to B, while not understanding much about the concepts they’re supposed to be learning. His argument can be summed up with this paragraph, and is somewhat inspired by what Ann Shannon wrote in what teachers should Look for in the CCSS Mathematics Classroom.
Similarly, our step-by-step instructions do an excellent job transporting students efficiently from a question to its answer, but a poor job helping them acquire the domain knowledge to understand the deep structure in a problem set and adapt old methods to new questions.
I would tend to agree. I do give students steps occasionally but it’s often in order to simplify concepts and, if I’m being honest, to some degree avoid students truly struggling and grappling with the concepts.
I’m curious as to what others think about his post and the notion that GPSing students leads to less learning.