This is from yesterday’s survey, which was discussed over at this post. What do you make of the responses, particularly the differences between (2a+6) in the first response, and (2x+49) in the second?

This post is part of a series analyzing a bunch of survey results. For previous posts, go here and here.

## One reply on “Diving into the Multiplying Polynomials Survey”

For the first problem, I believe that the parentheses in the first problem did not tip the student off that he or she was multiplying. But when they saw squared in the second problem, they knew that they should be multiplying something.

Overall, I think you’ve exposed a general problem, that students see patterns/rules/tricks in familiar problems and apply them in other situations when they’re not sure what to do. They lose sense of the meaning, and therefore, can’t apply what they’ve learned.