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ERIC Number: EJ1154348
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Are Your Students Problem Performers or Problem Solvers?
Barlow, Angela T.; Duncan, Matthew; Lischka, Alyson E.; Hartland, Kristin S.; Willingham, J. Christopher
Teaching Children Mathematics, v23 n9 p550-558 May 2017
When presented with a problem in mathematics class, students often function as problem performers rather than problem solvers (Rigelman 2007). That is, rather than understanding the problem, students focus on using an operation to complete it. Students' tendencies to act as problem performers can prevent them from suggesting problem-solving strategies (e.g., draw a picture or act it out) that would support exploration of the problem. Therefore, additional scaffolding during the process of setting up the problem is needed. The authors of this article work in a context that allows them to teach a single lesson multiple times, thus providing the chance to explore potential scaffolds. Typically, Barlow, the first author, teaches a lesson while the remaining authors observe. Afterward, the group discusses how to improve the lesson, often with emphasis on scaffolding problem exploration. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to share three strategies that they have found to be useful in scaffolding students toward exploration of a problem. For each strategy, they give a general description along with its application to two sample problems. A bibliography is included.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-9840; Fax: 703-476-2570; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A