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Teaching Realistic Mathematics Modeling in the Elementary School: A Teaching Experiment With Fifth Graders

Lieven Verschaffel, Erik De Corte 

November 1997, Volume 28, Issue 5, Page 577

Abstract:
Recent research has convincingly documented elementary school children's tendency to neglect real-world knowledge and realistic considerations during mathematical modeling of word problems in school arithmetic. The present article describes the design and the results of an exploratory teaching experiment carried out to test the hypothesis that it is feasible to develop in pupils a disposition toward (more) realistic mathematical modeling. This goal is achieved by immersing them in a classroom culture in which word problems are conceived as exercises in mathematical modeling, with a focus on the assumptions and the appropriateness of the model underlying any proposed solution. The learning and transfer effects of an experimental class of 10- and 11-year-old pupils--compared to the results in two control classes--provide support for the hypothesis that it is possible to develop in elementary school pupils a disposition toward (more) realistic mathematical modeling.

Keywords:
Linking Research and Practice
Grades 3-5
Curriculum Developer
Conceptual Development
Teacher
Manipulatives
Representation