Making Sense of Word Problems

Making Sense of Word Problems

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Word problems have been a staple of mathematics instruction for centuries, yet the rationale for their use has remained largely unexamined. A range of findings have shown how students consistently answer them in ways that fail to take account of the reality of the situations described. This monograph reports on studies carried out to investigate this qsuspension of sense-makingq in answering word problems. In Part One, a wide range of examples documenting the strength of the phenomenon is reviewed. Initial surprise at the findings was replaced by a conviction that the explanation lies in the culture of the mathematics classroom, specifically the rules implicitly governing the nature and interpretation of the word problem genre. This theoretical shift is reflected in Part Two. A detailed analysis of the way in which word problems are currently taught in typical mathematical classrooms is followed by reviews of design experiments illustrating how, by immersing students in a fundamentally changed learning environment, they can acquire what the authors consider to be more appropriate conceptions about, and strategies for doing, word problems. Part Three turns to a wider discussion of theoretical issues, a further analysis of the features of the educational system considered responsible for outcomes detrimental to many students' understanding and conception of mathematics, and suggestions for rethinking the role of word problems within the curriculum.The problem is about the comparison of the amounts of clothesline needed to make two different types of ... make an overview of the different mathematical models that were used, and Tom wants to make a clothes-drying rack for the backyard.

Title:Making Sense of Word Problems
Author:Eric de Corte, Brian Greer, Lieven Verschaffel
Publisher:CRC Press - 2000-01-01


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