Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

The Effect of Learning Environments Based on Problem Solving on Students' Achievements of Problem Solving

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

The Effect of Learning Environments Based on Problem Solving on Students' Achievements of Problem Solving

Article excerpt

Abstract

Problem solving is recognized as an important life skill involving a range of processes including analyzing, interpreting, reasoning, predicting, evaluating and reflecting. For that reason educating students as efficient problem solvers is an important role of mathematics education. Problem solving skill is the centre of mathematics curriculum. Students' gaining ofthat skill in school mathematics is closely related with the learning environment to be formed and the roles given to the students. The aim of this study is to create a problem solving based learning environment to enhance the students' problem solving skill. Within this scope, students' practiced activities and problems that provide them to proceed in Polya (1945)'s problem solving phases and throughout the study, students' success in problem solving have been evaluated. While experimental group students received problem solving based learning environment performed, control group students have continued their present program in this quise-experimental study. Eleven problem solving activities were given to the students at the beginning, middle and end of the study and the students' performances were analyzed based on problem solving phases. The findings illustrated that the experimental group students' success in problem solving activities has increased while the control group students' success has not changed significantly.

Keywords: Mathematics Education, Problem Solving, Polya's Problem Solving Phases.

Introduction

An In our everyday lives, we use problem-solving skills. Also, most of us have to make daily plan, make decisions in our business and manage our budget. All of these events require logical thinking and also problem solving skill (Weidemann, 1995). Problem solving is recognized as an important life skill involving a range of processes including analyzing, interpreting, reasoning, predicting, evaluating and reflecting (Anderson, 2009). For these reasons one of the aims of mathematics teaching is to educate students as efficient problem solvers (Baki, 2008). Therefore, problem solving is considered as a central to school mathematics. It is highlighted in reform documents by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 1989, 2000) as a key factor of change in mathematics education. NCTM (2000) states that students should be given chance to apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems; and monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving in instructional programs during the problem solving process. Similarly, Kilpatrick, Swafford, and Findell (2001) argue that problem solving provides an important context for students to learn numbers and other mathematical terms and problem-solving ability is enhanced when students have opportunities to solve problems themselves and to see problems being solved. Thus, problem solving is important as a way of doing, learning and teaching mathematics. Therefore, preparing mathematics curriculum in the centre of problem solving appears to be important.

Problem Solving in the Reform Movement

Over the past decades, there have been many changes in mathematics teaching. There are some foundations in that period of change such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), the National Research Council (NRC, 1989) as well as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum (Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, 1997). These foundations put an emphasis on problem solving in mathematics learning. In compliance with NCTM, problem solving is an integral part of all mathematics learning. So, problem solving should not be an isolated part of the curriculum" (NCTM, 2000). At the same time, the teacher has an important role in the development of students' problem solving skill and the teachers must choose problems that engage students (NCTM, 2000). Similarly, NRC states in its report which was published in 2001 that problem solving ability is enhanced when students have opportunities to solve problems themselves and see problems being solved. …

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