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The effects of problem solving approaches on students’ performance and self-regulated learning in mathematics

Polat, Zeynep Sonay
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of problem solving approaches on pre-service elementary teachers’ basic mathematics achievement, problem- solving performance and their self regulated learning. The study was conducted as quasi - experimental design with 110 elementary school pre-service teachers at a public university in Central Anatolia Region in the 2007-2008 academic year during the second semester. The time duration of the study was 12 weeks. Experimental group was instructed by questioning problem solving approach while control group was instructed by traditional problem solving approach. The data were collected through Basic Mathematics Achievement Test, Mathematical Problem Solving Test, Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, Treatment Evaluation Form, interviews and observation checklists. The quantitative data was analyzed using multivariate analysis of covariance. The results revealed that questioning problem solving approach had a statistically significant effect on pre-service elementary school teachers’ basic mathematics achievement, problem solving performance, task value, and control of learning beliefs, metacognitive self-regulation and effort regulation. However, there was no statistically significant mean difference between the experimental and control group in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic goal orientation, self-efficacy for learning and performance, test anxiety, rehersal, elaboration, organisation, critical thinking, time and study environment management, peer learning and help seeking. In addition the interview results showed that questioning problem solving approach had developed pre-service teachers’ skills on Polya’s problem solving phase which were devising a plan and looking back. The common opinions among the students about the qustioning problem solving approach that questioning problem solving approach improved their problem solving skills and they learned new ways of solution through class discussions. Moreover, they implied that they learned to think differently.