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Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Teo, B. C. (2020). My math homework pal (Report No. NRF2015-EDU001-IHL10). National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
The aim of the project was to provide a computer software to help students to become better in solving math word problems. The approach is to use the software to guide the students to solve word problems in a systematic and structural way while providing enough scaffolds and helps when required. Also, when students cannot solve it correctly, it will pose a simpler yet similar problem for students to attempt. The process of posing simpler problems would allow the students to continue looking at and thinking of solving the problem instead of giving up. If students were to be able to solve the simpler problem correctly, they would then attempt the earlier problems to see whether they could do better. The rationale for this is to help students understand the problem better as well as boosting their confidence and competency over time. This approach would allow students to gain success experience while not giving up too quickly.

Although there was a long delay in hiring the software developer, the project team managed to complete the design and development of the software. The software together with the accompanied specially designed word problems were piloted with 2 groups of students from 2 schools in Nov 2017. The feedbacks were generally positive on the use of the software. In Jan 2018, 2 groups of students from 2 schools participated in the inmplementations with 9 homework assignments given over Term 1 and Term 2. Pre and Post tests as well as pre and post perception questionnaires were administrated. Due to the small sample (n = 24) which followed through 1 whole implementation cycle and the short duration of using the software, data collected did not show any clear or significant changes in terms of students’ attitudes, aptitudes and performances toward solving math word problems after using the software.

In summary, the software was developed as planned but with only 1 cycle of implementation involving a small group of participants being carried out. The original plan to execute at least two cycle of implementations did not go as planned because of insufficient time due to delay in hiring the software developer and the consequent late completion of the software. Data collected did not show significant impact of use of the software in helping students to solve math word problems better. Some contributing factors which influenced this outcome may be the lack of supporting mechanisms to sustain students’ engagement, perception of students seeing these homework assignments as extra work and being lazy, and the strong prevailing belief by the students that they could not do word problems well by themselves.
Project number: 
Grant ID: 
Education Research Funding Programme (ERFP)
eduLab (eduLab-NRF)
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
National Research Foundation (NRF), Singapore
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