ERIC Number: ED445923
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-May
Improving Student Achievement in Solving Mathematical Word Problems.
Roti, Joan; Trahey, Carol; Zerafa, Susan
This report describes a program for improving students' comprehension of the language of mathematical problems. The targeted population consists of 5th and 6th grade multi-age students and multi-age learners with special needs at a middle school located outside a major city in a Midwestern community. Evidence for the existence of this problem includes math test scores, teacher observation of math problem solving processes, and student reflective journals. Analysis of probable cause data reveals that students cannot solve mathematical problems due to a number of factors. Students often have difficulty figuring out the relationship between the words and the symbols in mathematical problems. Often they will look past the words in the context of the problem directly to the data. This can lead to "correct" solutions that are inappropriate to the contextual sense of the problem. Students often rely on superficial cues that can lead to incorrect solutions, or solutions that make little sense in terms of the language of the problem. Additionally, the language itself that is used in mathematical problems is different from a students' everyday language and can cause some comprehension difficulties in terms of solving the problem. A review of solution strategies suggests that students need to utilize their prior knowledge to make sense of the language in the problem to participate in discourse with others in order to identify the relevant information that might lead to a solution, and to explore a range of problem solving strategies. The interventions used in this study include cooperative grouping, vocabulary interventions, teacher-student modeling, and student reflective journals. Post intervention data indicates that divergent approaches in problem solving strategies were thought to be a key factor in encouraging students to think more broadly than they had before the intervention. A growing sophistication in students' abilities to metacognitively analyze their approach to problem solving was evidenced in their journal entries. (Contains 50 references.) (ASK)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A
Note: Master of Arts in Teaching and Leadership, Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight Professional Development.