Mathematics

What is Mental Computation?

Whereas mental arithmetic traditionally focuses on speed and accuracy, mental computation has its emphasis on the processes used to achieve the answer.

As effective users of numbers we have developed our own way of solving number problems ‘on the spot’. We have generally developed our mental computation strategies without formal instruction.

When people hear the term “mental computation” many think of the mental arithmetic problems they did at school. Mental arithmetic focuses on producing correct answers quickly. While not neglecting the correctness of the answer, mental computation emphasises the mental processes used to achieve the answer. To develop mental computation in the classroom, teachers can encourage students to explain how they arrived at their answers and to compare their strategies with those of other students. Number sense refers to a person’s understanding of number concepts, operations, and applications of numbers and operations. It includes the ability and inclination to use this understanding in flexible ways to make mathematical judgements and to develop useful strategies for handling numbers and operations. Hence, mental computation is closely linked to the development of number sense. Emphasising mental computation supports effective numeracy since mental computation is commonly used for calculations by adults and is the simplest way of doing many calculations. 

The above infomation has been taken from the following website:

http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/vmco/index.html
Click on this link to access a PDF file of various Mental Computation examples.

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