While practice makes perfect – so the saying goes – it is no longer always true in today’s Math class, especially when solving word problems. Word problems today require more than mere computation. You need to consider the context of the problem and give thought to the meaning of the mathematical processes before you can arrive at the solution.
Background of T3 Project
The Think-Things-Through (T3) project aimed to transform the teaching and learning of mathematics through:
- developing teacher’s pedagogical skills
- engaging students in sense-making when solving word problems
Teachers were trained to use a set of teaching materials, including student worksheets with standard and non-standard problems and manipulatives. They were given different levels of support, with the majority being given teaching notes and encouraged to discuss the lesson plans with their colleagues.
Changing the Way We Learn
Word problems were the focus of a project to study its use as a change agent in Mathematics classrooms.
Although the intervention didn’t increase student’s success in solving non-standard problems, it did enable more students to think more deeply about the problems. The proportion of students who gave illogical answers using mere computation decreased over time.
Three factors were found to have an impact on how well students were able to handle non-standard word problems:
- Teachers who are given more guidance in using non-standard problems in their teaching.
- Teachers who have the knowledge and understanding of the mathematics behind the non-standard problems.
- Teachers who believe in and are comfortable with a more student-centred approach.
- Read more about the T3 project and access the worksheets and lesson plans here.