Solving word problems in mathematics: An exploratory study among Fijian primary school teachers
Word problems have been well recognised for their pedagogical value in mathematics teaching and learning. The authors of this paper examined Fijian primary mathematics teachers’ mathematical knowledge by analysing 34 teachers response to three word problems. The teachers were enrolled in a primary mathematics teaching methods course at a Fijian university. These teachers had a minimum of two years of teaching experience and an official undergraduate qualification from a teacher training college. One of the word problems was a nonsensical one, while the other two word problems contained some technical defects. The overall intention was to explore whether in-service primary teachers could identify the word problems as nonsensical or problematic, and if so, how do they apply their judgment based on real world knowledge when faced with non-standard word problems. Findings suggest that in-service primary teachers do not apply real world mathematical knowledge when solving word problems. This research provides an insight into the lack of mathematical knowledge of a small sample of in-service teachers with respect to identifying real world mathematical knowledge. Some awareness on the pedagogical potential of such word problems are also evident in this study.
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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015