Gender Aspects of Sense Making In Word Problem Solving

Torulf Palm, Peter Nyström


This study focuses on gender differences in the extent to which students take real-world considerations into account when working with word problems in mathematics. Previous studies have found that students have a tendency to neglect an appropriate use of real-world knowledge in their word-problem solving, which leads to solutions that are inconsistent with the ‘real' situations described in the tasks. Research has also shown that the authenticity of the word problems can influence students' activation of their knowledge of the ‘real' situations described in the tasks, as well as their use of this real-world knowledge in order to provide ‘realistic' solutions. The study reported here investigates whether there are gender differences in the students' activation and use of real-world knowledge when working with word problems in mathematics. In addition, it investigates whether task authenticity influences boys and girls differently with respect to these real-world considerations. The results show that even though some of the tasks used in the study affected boys and girls differently, across all tasks and students no evidence of gender differences with respect to real-world considerations were found.


Authenticity, gender, mathematical modelling, sense making, word problems

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