Conceptual Gain and Successful Problem-solving in Primary School Mathematics

Educational Studies 25 (1):55-78 (1999)

This study investigated the effects of children solving addition and subtraction problems collaboratively in comparison with solving problems in the traditional manner of the classroom. Seventy-seven children were divided into experimental and control groups, the experimental children being assigned to groups of four with note taken of the ability and gender mix. Following a pre-test-intervention-post-test design, the experimental children worked together in their groups using problem-solving guidelines to solve a number of problems, thereafter 'teaching' their problem to a fellow pupil. Each child worked on six problems over a 3-week period, three of the problems in their groups subsequently teaching them to another, the other three problems being taught to them by another child. Over the same time period, the control group solved the same problems working individually at their desks. The pre- and post-tests were analysed for number of problems correct or 'score', problemsolving strategy and execution of procedures, with pre-test scores being subtracted from post-test scores to give measures of change. The results indicated a main effect of ability on strategy change and a two-way interaction between gender and condition. They also indicated a main effect of condition for execution of procedures. Dialogue analyses indicated that more below average children improved their strategy understanding by listening to peers. The results themselves revealed variations in the way that children of different ability levels and gender can benefit from collaborative group work and thus have some interesting implications for the organisation of collaborative groups in the classroom
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DOI 10.1080/03055699997963
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