Mathematical Word Problems: Factors Causing Students Difficulty When Answering

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

David Kupferman


mathematical word problems


The purpose of this study was to investigate what factors, if any, cause student’s difficulty when answering mathematical word problems in the classroom at a mid-size Midwestern State University. The class, comprised of thirty juniors and seniors of all genders, was tested toward the beginning of the semester on a variety of written mathematical word problems. Observations were made, in addition to ethnographic interviews to get students' perspective on the topic. Semantic differential questionnaires were used to get an idea of where students were at with their progress. Adjustments were made during the course to get a better understanding of the students' process to solving these types of problems. Knowing which factors impact students most with these types of problems will help tailor how to write them in future tests. A final test was administered to students, allowing me to analyze students’ performance after changes were made.

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