ERIC Number: ED364415
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Apr
Investigating the Role of Basic Facts in Early Mathematics Word Problem Solving.
Bebout, Harriett C.
A traditional view of mathematics learning suggests that basic fact knowledge provides a cornerstone for success in problem solving. But possibly, for some children, automated basic fact responses may be disadvantageous for their problem solving success. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between basic fact knowledge and success in solving addition and subtraction word problems. The sample consisted of second graders (n=42) from an urban neighborhood school in a large metropolitan school district, 99% of whose students were from black American families. Results showed little or no correlation between students' basic fact and problem-solving performances. Analyses indicated two potentially interesting groups of students: (1) High Basic Fact/Low Problem Solving (n=6); and (2) Low Basic Fact/High Problem Solving (n=4). The results suggest that some beginning mathematics students are successful in solving various types of word problems without a strong fact background, and some beginners are unsuccessful in solving various types of word problems although they do have a strong basic fact background. This study supports a constructivist view of curriculum and suggests further investigation of the potential for damage to be done by curricula too focused on basic facts. Examples of word problem types and correlation and regression data are provided. (MKR)
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 (Atlanta, GA, April 1993).