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How pupils of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades of elementary school understand mathematical text assignments

Nina Marolt (2019) How pupils of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades of elementary school understand mathematical text assignments. MSc thesis.

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    In the school learning environment we often encounter notions like ‘problem’ and ‘word problem’. Many regard the terms as synonyms when, in fact, they are not. The school curricula dedicate a lot of lessons to problem tasks, but in fact pupils experience but a small portion of tasks regarded as problems in terms of level of difficulty. In the theoretical part of the thesis we present the difference between the notions of problem and problem task, list the types of problems, and the stages of problem-solving. We also present some research. We then link and compare the results of our own research to the ones presented before, thus creating a wider global context. The empirical part includes research of the pupils’ achievements in solving word problems. We wanted to see whether there are any differences in the successful completion of word problems in terms of sex, age, and type of task. A part of the research also included the teachers. We analysed their knowledge evaluation and testing sheets and the handouts, researched what the percentage of word problems in relation to the entire subject matter was, and how versatile the word problems were in terms of level of difficulty. In particular, we wanted to know whether or not teachers included the most difficult level of word problems, and what their share was. Within this we explored the possible connection between the share of problem-level word problems and the pupils’ success in solving them. The results have shown that pupils are less successful when faced with word problems. Our research shows slight differences in the successful completion of tasks in terms of sex – boys were more successful, but the margin is statistically insignificant. The results have also shown that age plays no role in completing the task successfully – third-grade pupils did best. Results regarding the successful completion of the task in terms of task type have shown that pupils did best when solving routine-complex tasks, but faced great difficulty with problem tasks. The research conducted with the teachers has shown that they included word problems in their Math lessons, but such tasks generally presented less than a third of the entire subject matter. Teachers failed to include word problems demanding pupils’ problem-solving skills in their lessons – the major share was taken by word problems involving complex procedural knowledge, followed by a smaller share of routine procedural knowledge. We noticed that pupils were not used to solving problem-based word problems, and therefore lower achievements were understandably expected.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: word problems, pupils’ achievements, sex, age, Gagne’s taxonomy, mathematical, problem
    Number of Pages: 77
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Vida Manfreda KolarMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/12499529
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 5827
    Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 08:32
    Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 08:32
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/5827

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