Newswise — Fuchang Liu, associate professor of math education in the Wichita State University College of Education, recently published a book, "Common Mistakes in Teaching Elementary Math," based on his years of experience working with elementary school teachers.

The book is unique in that, instead of telling teachers what they should do, it describes things they should avoid doing, without using much mathematical jargon.

The book targets in-service elementary school teachers and pre-service elementary teachers (elementary education majors) undergoing program training.

Liu uses it as a required textbook for the course "Elementary Math Methods."

In this book, Liu takes the reader through many common mistakes in math instruction and explains the misunderstandings behind them. He points out practices that should be avoided, helping teachers to adjust lessons so all students can achieve success.

"Most American elementary teachers do not have specialized training in mathematics," said Liu. "This lack of training is the underlying reason for their lack of proper conceptual understanding of fundamental mathematics, which, in turn, leads to some common mistakes.

"I have encountered many mistakes that can, or actually do, cause very serious misunderstanding or misconception on the part of their students.

"Some of these mistakes have long-lasting negative effects that will accompany these students well into high school or even college," said Liu.

The book is intended to:

  • Increase the teacher's confidence with core math principles and reasoning
  • Set students on the path toward eventually developing more complex math skills
  • Improve student achievement by approaching problems in logical, yet creative ways
  • Overcome common challenges faced by students and teachers
  • Teach problem-solving for different learning styles

Each chapter reconsiders well-established ways of teaching all areas of elementary math, from addition and subtraction to statistics and graphs. Helpful examples and tips are scattered throughout the book, offering revisions to the way these topics are often presented in the classroom. Also included are group study ideas for principals and instructional coaches so schools or districts can work on the book together.

Liu has been an educator for more than three decades, first as an English teacher in China and then as a math teacher in the United States. In the latter role, he was named Teacher of the Year in 2002. As an associate professor of math education at WSU, he works with pre- and in-service elementary teachers on a daily basis.

"Common Mistakes in Teaching Elementary Math" is available on and

The mission of Wichita State University is to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good. Wichita State is a doctoral research university enrolling more than 15,000 students and offering 59 undergraduate degree programs in more than 150 areas of study in seven undergraduate colleges. The Graduate School offers 45 master's and 12 doctoral degrees that offer study in more than 100 areas. Wichita State's Innovation Campus is an interconnected community of partnership buildings, laboratories and mixed-use areas where students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs and businesses have access to the university's vast resources and technology. For more information, follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at

# # # # #

Contact: Fuchang Liu, 316-978-6874 or [email protected].