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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Cognitive Models of Task Performance for Mathematical Reasoning

Summary

It is an understatement to say that mathematical knowledge and skill are valuable for the jobs and careers of the twenty-first century. In fact, they are essential for individuals who want to have the widest array of career options available and a high quality of life. Learners who shun mathematics shut themselves off from many lucrative career paths. According to a recently published article in the Wall Street Journal (Needleman, January 26, 2009), “Doing the Math to Find Good Jobs,” the best occupations in America all required advanced mathematics. According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census, the top five jobs in a list of two hundred included mathematician, actuary, statistician, biologist, and software engineer. These jobs were rated highest because they combined large salaries with desirable working conditions, namely, indoor office environments, unadulterated air, absence of heavy lifting and physical hardship, and conveniences such as controlling one's work schedule. The worst jobs were lumberjack, dairy farmer, taxi driver, seaman, and emergency medical technician. Most of the jobs at the lower end of the list did not require advanced mathematics.

The importance of mathematics for maximizing the likelihood of obtaining a desirable job in the future would make one think that students, desirous of having an edge for a future career, would be clamoring to learn and perform as well as possible in mathematics. Yet this is not the case.

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