What is a Math Concept?

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  • 0:00 Definition Of Math Concept
  • 0:40 Math Fact
  • 1:15 Math Concept VS Math Fact
  • 2:35 Using Math Concepts
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Is it better to learn a math concept rather than a math fact? In this lesson, learn which one will help you more in life. Also explore some math concepts and see how they are applied.

Definition of Math Concept

A math concept is the 'why' or 'big idea' of math. Knowing a math concept means you know the workings behind the answer. You know why you got the answer you got and you don't have to memorize answers or formulas to figure them out. Because you know why things work, you can figure out the answers and formulas yourself. You understand answers and formulas better and can tell when something isn't quite right.

When you understand a math concept, you have essentially reached an upper tier in math that allows you to think and process abstractly. This takes us to the difference between a math concept and a math fact.

Math Fact

A math fact is something that needs to be memorized or written down. For example, the multiplication and addition tables are math facts because they tell you that 1 + 1 = 2 and that 2 * 2 = 4. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about them.

Knowing a math fact allows you to recall the information when you need it, like for a test. However, if you were given a problem that is similar but uses different numbers or arrangements, then you wouldn't be able to do the problem because you only know the fact and not the concept behind it. You don't know how the problem works so you can't solve it because the facts you know don't include that specific problem.

Math Concept vs. Math Fact

Let's compare a few math concepts and math facts.

  1. Counting. The math concept for counting tells you that you start at a number and incrementally go up. You can choose your increment to suit your needs. The math fact for counting gives you the number line of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
  2. Addition. The math concept of addition tells you to gather 2 quantities or numbers together and get their total. The math fact is the additional table that tells you 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, etc.
  3. Multiplication. The math concept of multiplication tells you to get the total of a certain number or quantity that has been copied or cloned so many times. The math fact is the multiplication table.
  4. Division. The math concept tells you that to divide means to split fairly. The math fact is the division table or the reverse multiplication table.

The math concept is more general than the math fact. Do you see how the math concept can be applied in so many more areas than the math fact? The concept allows you to solve so many more problems than just the math fact. One math fact lets you solve one specific type of problem, but one math concept covers a whole range of like problems.

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