Solving word problems : a case of modelling?

K.P.E. Gravemeijer

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    According to the researchers who report in this set of papers there are two causes for the phenomenon that primary- and secondary-school students ignore relevant and plausibly familiar aspects of reality in answering word problems. The first cause is the stereotyped character of common word problems. The second cause lies in the classroom climate. In this article, it is argued that the students act sensibly in their situation. Furthermore, it is noted that the use of stereotyped problems and the accompanying classroom climate relate to teacher beliefs about the goals of mathematics education. Therefore, improving the results on problematic word problems will ask for a change in teacher beliefs. Furthermore, a directed effort to change the classroom socio-math norms will be needed. In relation to this, Greer's suggestion for a change towards a modelling perspective is supported. However, what modelling is, is worked out differently. In line with the RME instructional theory, a plea is made for modelling as an activity of organizing, not of translation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-397
    JournalLearning and Instruction
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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