Studies in Philosophy and Education 26 (3):225-236 (2007)

Word problems in mathematics seem to constantly pose learning difficulties for all kinds of students. Recent work in math education. Where mathematics comes from: How the embodied mind brings mathematics into being. New York: Basic Books]) suggests that the difficulties stem from an inability on the part of students to decipher the metaphorical properties of the language in which such problems are cast. A 2003 pilot study [Danesi, M.. Semiotica, 145, 71–83] confirmed this hypothesis in an anecdotal way. This paper reviews the implications of that study and of a follow-up one that is described here as well, in the light of how the metaphorical analysis of word problems allows learners to overcome typical difficulties in word problem-solving by teaching them how to flesh out the underlying concepts and convert them into appropriate representations.
Keywords Mathematics education  Metaphor  Semiotics  Conceptual metaphor theory  Word problems
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DOI 10.1007/s11217-007-9035-5
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Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff & Mark Johnson - 1980 - University of Chicago Press.

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