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Middle school students' use of problem-solving steps and their strategies in solving word problems

Alkan, C. Sinan
The aim of the present study was to investigate the middle school students’ use of problem solving steps and their use of the strategies in the process of solution of Problem-Solving questions related to topics of numbers generally. The data was gathered in the fall semester of the 2017-2018 academic year. The study sample included 116 (29 fifth graders, 29 sixth graders, 25 seventh graders, and 33 eighth graders) middle school students in Konya, Turkey. Different Problem Solving Achievement tests were used in the study for each grade level. In this study, basic qualitative research design was used to answer the questions “To what extend students use problem solving steps based on the identified framework?” and “What are the middle school students’ strategies in the word problems?”. Furthermore, descriptive statistics was used to describe the data. The results of the study revealed that in some word problems, students showed their ability to use different strategies although the students generally preferred to use the arithmetic strategy. At the same time, the research findings showed that the most important deficiency of students was that they did not use real world knowledge and experience in their solutions. They did not take into account the real relationships between real-life contexts revealed by the problem statements and the operations they carried out in the problem solution. According to the results of the study, most of the students had difficulties in explaining their mathematical reasoning and making critics related to real life problems.