Promoting Students’ Problem-Solving Skills in Secondary Mathematics Education
Hanegem, J. van
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Mathematical thinking and especially problem solving is the core of doing mathematics, though it is not quite clear how teaching problem solving can be done in the classroom. The aim of this study is to learn how problem-solving skills of students in mathematics education can be promoted. We focused on explicitly providing a problem-solving model to students, problems which have to be experienced as real problems, and the role of the teacher in guiding the problem-solving process of students. A design-based research approach is adopted to develop a series of 36 lessons during nine weeks. The designed lessons were taught to five grade 8 classes by three teachers, including the researcher herself. A pre- and post-test was conducted with 121 students. Also mini-interviews with groups of four students about the awareness of students’ own problem-solving process were carried out each week. Results show that the problem-solving skills of students significantly improved and the awareness of students’ own problem-solving process and skills increased. Therefore, it can be concluded that a well-implemented multidimensional approach, focused on explicitly providing a problem-solving model, activities that are real problems, and the guidance of the teacher, promote problem-solving skills of students in secondary mathematics education.