• Upper Elementary School Pupils' Difficulties in Modeling and Solving Nonstandard Additive Word Problems Involving Ordinal Numbers

    Lieven Verschaffel, Erik De Corte, Heidi Vierstraete
    Our goal in this study was to collect in a systematic way empirical data about the scope and the nature of upper elementary school pupils' difficulties with modeling and solving nonroutine additive word problems. We focused only on problems in which straightforward addition or subtraction of the 2 given numbers yields either 1 more or 1 less than the correct answer. A paper-and-pencil test containing several of these nonroutine items was administered to a large group of 5th and 6th graders, who had great difficulties in solving these problems, with various shortcomings underlying these difficulties. Many errors resulted from the superficial, stereotyped approach of adding or subtracting the 2 given numbers without considering the appropriateness of that action in relation to the problem context. Other errors, however, seem to have different origins, such as misconceptions about numbers and arithmetic operations.