The Problem Based Approach : New Knowledge And Understandings

1122 Words May 25th, 2016 null Page
The problem based approach emphasises that new knowledge and understandings are created while working collaboratively in small groups. Students get involved in mathematical conversations. Sharing and explaining their ideas with each other is important for effective collaboration and it also helps to enhance learning (Webb and Palincsar, 1996). An action research involving middle school students (Hirschfeld-Cotton, 2008) found that encouraging students to communicate their mathematical thinking has a positive effect on their conceptual understandings. A problem based task intends to engage students in mathematical interactions where students are discussing their ideas about the problem and the possible solutions. They exchange ideas, listen to each others’ arguments and analyse them to make sense of them. They may produce counterarguments or statements to improve their peers’ arguments. During this process they are involved in mathematical reasoning which clarifies their own understandings of the concepts.

Different members of the group have different strengths and this distribution of ‘cognitive load’ (Hmelo-Silver, 2004, p.246) helps them to tackle problems which might be more difficult to solve individually. The teacher works as a facilitator to ensure that all students are engaging in the discussions and appropriate classroom protocols are being adhered to. They provide a safe environment where students are allowed to disagree with each other and justify their arguments…

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