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Response sentences, examples, and authenticity do not help children solve real wor(l)d problems

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Learning and Instruction Volume 61, Number 1, ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Realistic word problems are mathematical word problems that require the consideration of one's real-world knowledge to solve them. Research investigating children's ability to use realistic information in these problems has largely focused on interventions aimed at increasing students' realistic responses. The present study consists of three experiments that attempt to do the same in a sample of Grade 6 children. In Experiment 1, there was no effect of using a response sentence to increase realistic responding. In Experiment 2, students showed a significant decrease in realistic responses when they were shown an example of how to answer a realistic word problem. Lastly, in Experiment 3, we attempted to replicate the work of Palm (2008) who was able to triple the number of realistic responses by creating problems with a richer backstory and providing more detail. Our sample of sixth-grade students failed to show an increase in realistic responses to these, enhanced, versions of realistic word problems. The results of these series of studies indicate that a variety of intervention methods mostly prove to be insufficient to counter students already strongly held notions of how word problems are to be approached and answered.


Fitzpatrick, C.L., Hallett, D., Morrissey, K.R., Yıldız, N.R., Wynes, R. & Ayesu, F. (2019). Response sentences, examples, and authenticity do not help children solve real wor(l)d problems. Learning and Instruction, 61(1), 111-125. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved January 28, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Learning and Instruction on March 15, 2019. Learning and Instruction is a publication of Elsevier.

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