Empowering educationally disadvantaged mathematics students through a strategies-based problem solving approach

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4 Citations (Scopus)


A major impediment to problem solving in mathematics in the great majority of South African schools is that disadvantaged students from seriously impoverished learning environments are lacking in the necessary informal mathematical knowledge to develop their own strategies for solving non-routine problems. A randomized pretest-posttest control group design was used to empirically investigate the effectiveness of a strategies-based problem solving approach on the problem solving performance of 9th grade disadvantaged students. In this approach students receive explicit instruction on a wide repertoire of problem solving strategies. The results reported in this study show a significant improvement in problem solving performance when a strategies-based approach to problem solving was being implemented. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the responses to the items showed how the treatment group students had internalized as part of their problem solving repertoire the strategies on which they had been explicitly instructed on. The findings of this study make a case for the adoption of this approach so that the gap between the student's existing problem solving competence, and the cognitive demands of a problem solving task can be bridged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-57
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Educational Researcher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Non-routine problems
  • Problem solving
  • Problem solving strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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