Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Developing Problem-Solving Heuristics in the Middle School: A Qualitative Study

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to document the development of heuristics for mathematics problem solving using a variety of instructional techniques. Heuristics generally refers to following a set of rules to find answers. This study primarily examined the following research question: Will students develop heuristics for mathematics problem solving through exposure to a highly structured problem-solving model?

A qualitative study was conducted with 60 sixth grade children by the classroom teacher/researcher. Qualitative data collection methods were used to evaluate teaching episodes and to investigate covert cognitive processes as children responded to imposed instruction during the nonconstructivist teaching experiment. An inductive data analysis was conducted and working hypotheses were generated. In this study, consistent systematic instruction and application of the problem-solving model, over time, appeared to enhance mathematics achievement generally and problem-solving ability specifically. This study reflects the current goals of mathematics education which emphasize problem-solving instruction and communicating mathematically.