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Sloppy Student
A student forgot how to multiply polynomial expressions and wrote the following on a
quiz :
( a + b)( a + c) = a 2 + bc
Not realizing that he had made a mistake, he checked his result by substituting different
values for a, b and c . He tried a = 0, b = 1, c = 2 and a = 2, b = 1, c = −1 . Since the
numbers worked out in both cases, he assumed that his formula was correct.
1. Can you come up with values for a, b, and c which will NOT work in the given
answer?
2. Explain in words why the student’s answer is incorrect, and describe the proper
procedure for multiply polynomials.
Balanced Assessment in Mathematics Program
Assessment Task 20150518220453all_inclusive_question, page 1 of 2
Copyright © 2002, President and Fellows of Harvard College
Extension:
3. Give a general description of all possible values for a, b and c that will work in
the incorrect formula.
Balanced Assessment in Mathematics Program
Assessment Task 20150518220453all_inclusive_question, page 2 of 2
Copyright © 2002, President and Fellows of Harvard College

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Anonymous

Really helped me to better understand my coursework. Super recommended.