A problem-posing intervention in the development of problem-solving competence of underachieving, middle-year students

Priest, Deborah Jean (2009) A problem-posing intervention in the development of problem-solving competence of underachieving, middle-year students. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study reported on the issues surrounding the acquisition of problem-solving competence of middle-year students who had been ascertained as above average in intelligence, but underachieving in problem-solving competence. In particular, it looked at the possible links between problem-posing skills development and improvements in problem-solving competence. A cohort of Year 7 students at a private, non-denominational, co-educational school was chosen as participants for the study, as they undertook a series of problem-posing sessions each week throughout a school term. The lessons were facilitated by the researcher in the students’ school setting. Two criteria were chosen to identify participants for this study. Firstly, each participant scored above the 60th percentile in the standardized Middle Years Ability Test (MYAT) (Australian Council for Educational Research, 2005) and secondly, the participants all scored below the cohort average for Criterion B (Problem-solving Criterion) in their school mathematics tests during the first semester of Year 7. Two mutually exclusive groups of participants were investigated with one constituting the Comparison Group and the other constituting the Intervention Group. The Comparison Group was chosen from a Year 7 cohort for whom no problem-posing intervention had occurred, while the Intervention Group was chosen from the Year 7 cohort of the following year. This second group received the problem-posing intervention in the form of a teaching experiment. That is, the Comparison Group were only pre-tested and post-tested, while the Intervention Group was involved in the teaching experiment and received the pre-testing and post-testing at the same time of the year, but in the following year, when the Comparison Group have moved on to the secondary part of the school. The groups were chosen from consecutive Year 7 cohorts to avoid cross-contamination of the data.
A constructionist framework was adopted for this study that allowed the researcher to gain an “authentic understanding” of the changes that occurred in the development of problem-solving competence of the participants in the context of a classroom setting (Richardson, 1999). Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through a combination of methods including researcher observation and journal writing, video taping, student workbooks, informal student interviews, student surveys, and pre-testing and post-testing. This combination of methods was required to increase the validity of the study’s findings through triangulation of the data.
The study findings showed that participation in problem-posing activities can facilitate the re-engagement of disengaged, middle-year mathematics students. In addition, participation in these activities can result in improved problem-solving competence and associated developmental learning changes. Some of the changes that were evident as a result of this study included improvements in self-regulation, increased integration of prior knowledge with new knowledge and increased and contextualised socialisation.

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ID Code: 31740
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: English, Lyndall & Shield, Malcolm
Keywords: assessment, cognition, developmental learning, education, engagement, intervention, mathematics, middle year, multiple intelligences, pedagogy, problem solving, problem posing, self-regulation, teaching experiment, underachievement
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Apr 2010 04:20
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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