I have been struggling a bit this year with getting a student or two to show steps/process/work/setups (or whatever you call it when you say that it isn't okay to give a lonely answer with no justification). The silver lining is that this struggle forces me to think about WHY students should show work. Here are a few reasons I have:
Showing steps . . .
Puts the focus on the process, rather than the solution.
Communicates your solution to others.
Makes it possible for you (or someone helping you) to locate your mistakes.
Slows you down, so fewer careless mistakes happen.
Gives evidence your answer is right.
Demonstrates your understanding.
Helps reduce cheating. (Some might still copy, but at least they must copy the work too.)
Finally, in my class an answer bank is given. Showing steps keeps practice from becoming nothing more than a matching game.
I am also asking myself some questions like . . . WHY do some students struggle with showing work?
Maybe because . . .
It takes too much time.
They can do it mentally.
They don't know how to show work.
They are bored.
They don't believe in its value.
They are cheating.
Writing this, I realized that when a student is repeatedly refusing to show their process, I tend to go straight to negative assumptions. I assume they are being stubborn and uncooperative, or that they must be cheating.
I am going to try to put the whole issue in a more positive light and see where the students are coming from. Maybe these students think that showing steps is just for the teacher's sake, and has no benefit to them personally.
Or, maybe they genuinely don't know how to express how they got the answer.
It also has me thinking about the types of questions I am asking. If someone can calculate the answer mentally, maybe the question wasn't challenging enough?
How do you motivate students to show their thoughts?