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Children making sense during word problem solving
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Proceedings of the Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice conference, Singapore, May - June 2005.
This is a workshop on word problems in primary mathematics. The workshop is based on a paper derived from an investigation into children’ responses to standard and non-standard mathematics word problems before and after an intervention programme. Standard word problems can be solved by identifying the correct operation and performing the necessary computation. The story context does not affect the solution. In solving non-standard word problems the
story context is important in obtaining a correct solution. Primary Three children in five Singapore schools participated in a year-long intervention where their teachers used several lessons that included non-standard problems. The children were asked to solve standard and non-standard word problems at the start and at the end of the school year. Among these word problems, there were those that were similar to, those that were similar in the mathematical structure to but different in the superficial features from, and those that were different in mathematical structure from the problems in the intervention programme. The responses from four intact classes were selected for analysis. It was found that the children were able to make sense of their computation results. However, in situations that went beyond computation, many children were not able to make sense. Intervention and use of concrete materials were found to encourage sense-making.
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