ABC problem in elementary mathematics education: Arithmetic before comprehension
Mathematical habits of prospective teachers affect problem comprehension and success and expose their beliefs about mathematics. Prospective elementary teachers (PSTs) (n = 121) engaged in a problem solving activity each week in class. Data were collected from PSTs enrolled in an undergraduate elementary mathematics methods course at a Southeastern State University over multiple semesters (six semesters, seven classes). PSTs’ solution methods for one intentionally misleading mathematics problem were analyzed using a convergent parallel mixed methods content analysis. Two-thirds of PSTs misunderstood the problem scenario and directly translated numbers from the problem text. PSTs who answered correctly used a problem model strategy to comprehend the scenario and were more likely to use multiple models, draw a diagram, and draw a diagram before using another model. However, a large number of PSTs who answered incorrectly also used multiple models and drew diagrams. Self-correction was not common (8 of 121), because their equations did not provide feedback or support comprehension. Three kinds of imprecision also affected problem comprehension and were evident in both correct and incorrect solutions. Intentionally misleading problems helped PSTs see consequences of their mathematical habits and highlighted the importance of sense making and precision when creating problem models.
Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Boote, & Boote, D. N. (2016). ABC problem in elementary mathematics education: Arithmetic before comprehension. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 21(2), 99–122. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-016-9350-2