ERIC Number: ED326391
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Understanding Word Arithmetic Problems. Linguistic and Situational Factors.
Mathematical word problems are notoriously difficult to solve for students at all grade levels. Performance deficiencies have been attributed to students lacking abstract logico-mathematical knowledge or to insufficiently developed language comprehension skills. At least four general sources of difficulty can be distinguished in mathematical word problems: (1) the verbal formulation of the problem text; (2) the structure of the underlying episodic problem situation; (3) the conceptual logico-mathematical or arithmetical knowledge about set relations; and (4) the arithmetic problem solving skills that are required to perform counting operations or to resolve equations. This paper describes a process model Situation-Problem-Solver (SPS) computer program that constructs a problem representation based on strategies that take into account the specific situational structure as well as its wording. Discussed in this study is the role of two linguistic and of one situational factors on comprehension difficulty of simple mathematical word problems. The linguistic form factors that were manipulated concerned the narrative focus of the problem episode and the problem question. The results of this experiment indicate the script factor to be a dominant source of comprehension difficulty. (KR)
Descriptors: Abstract Reasoning, Cognitive Ability, College Mathematics, Comprehension, Computer Uses in Education, Critical Thinking, Elementary Secondary Education, Higher Education, Mathematical Logic, Mathematics Education, Problem Solving, Reading Skills, Thinking Skills, Word Problems (Mathematics)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 16-20, 1990).