Where and when do students struggle the most with algebra? A quick Google trends search shows that Google users in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) search for “algebra help” much more often then other Google users.

Narrowing the search to the USA only, users in Indianapolis, Indiana top the charts. This time, the search volume in the state of Indiana is much closer to the search volume in West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas and New Mexico, which round out the top 5 states. The city of Indianapolis, however, still outpaces other municipalities.

In the third frame, I changed the query to reflect all Google’s search data for “algebra help” among users in the USA. You’ll notice how, since 2004, Mississippi had the largest search volume among states and Jacksonville, Florida had the largest search volume among municipalities. Indianapolis is second on the long-term chart for municipalities.

Further queries (not pictured) don’t show Indianapolis in the top-ten municipalities until 2010, at which time Naptown hits #2. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have enough data to pull trends from the sub-region.

You can guess my question: What happened in Indianapolis? Did students start using Google en masse to get extra algebra help? Were students in the region put to higher standards? Did teaching effectiveness decline? We can’t really tell from these crude statistics.

We can, however, get a good indication as to when students Google users care about understanding algebra. Looking back at frame 3, the search volume clearly doubles near the end of the third quarter — just as the school year hits full gear in the fall. The search volume hits two lows: end of second/beginning of third quarter and end of the fourth quarter. These periods coincide, not surprisingly, with summer and winter breaks.

Draw your own conclusions.

  1. isthmustutoring posted this