ERIC Number: ED452054
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Mar
Teaching Fifth Grade Mathematical Concepts: Effects of Word Problems Used with Traditional Methods.
The view of the researcher is that students in the upper elementary to middle school range need to increase their problem-solving skills by making logical deductions and organizing and structuring their thoughts through the use of word problems. Giving children a daily word problem challenged and introduced them to the lesson. This activity improved their math test scores and critical thinking. Active learning and thinking allow the student to better understand the various methods of solving problems. Through the integration of their background knowledge and newly learned knowledge, students should be able to apply it to similar or new situations. The hypothesis of this experiment was stated as follows: There is no difference between those students that experience traditional mathematical instruction and those who are receiving the extra word problems at the 0.05 level of significance as measured by the book tests. One of the goals of a teacher, especially a math teacher, is to help students become better problem-solvers and develop their critical thinking skills. Problem solving is not just word problems or math problems; it is a way of thinking and reasoning. Solving a problem is not just about getting the right answer; the importance of solving a problem is how that solution is reached. There are a variety of methods and strategies that can be used to solve a problem. Past knowledge and experiences, communication, a willingness to experience new things, and being open to look at things from more than one direction are all a part of the problem solving experience. These things, used in conjunction with exploration and experimentation, can enhance critical thinking and problem solving. The research study took place in a fifth grade class in an eastern Tennessee school that is strongly suburban. The researcher taught four units which included addition of whole numbers and decimals, subtraction of whole numbers and decimals, multiplication of whole numbers and decimals, and division of whole numbers and decimals. The first and third units were the control group, while the second and fourth units were the experimental groups. Each unit was two weeks long. A posttest was given at the end of each unit, testing the content of that particular unit. The results of this research showed no significant difference between the means of the posttests in the traditional group and the experimental group. The null hypothesis of this experiment stated that there would not be a difference between those students that experienced traditional mathematical instruction to those who received the extra word problems at the 0.05 level of significance as measured by the book tests. According to the results, there was a 0.081 level of significance; therefore, the researcher retained the null hypothesis. At the beginning of the experiment (during the traditional instruction), the students seemed unsure about the steps of problem solving, and they were stuck on the idea that there is only one way to solve a math problem. By the end of the experiment, especially during the units with the extra word problem at the beginning, the students were looking for different ways to solve problems, and their answers were more detailed. The students could tell another person exactly how they solved the problem, and they had developed a true understanding of why their method worked as well as one or two other methods in the class. (Contains 43 references.) (Author/ASK)
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Master of Arts Action Research Project, Johnson Bible College.