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5 Teaching Mathematics Through Problem Solving

Janet Stramel

Problem Solving

In his book “How to Solve It,” George Pólya (1945) said, “One of the most important tasks of the teacher is to help his students. This task is not quite easy; it demands time, practice, devotion, and sound principles. The student should acquire as much experience of independent work as possible. But if he is left alone with his problem without any help, he may make no progress at all. If the teacher helps too much, nothing is left to the student. The teacher should help, but not too much and not too little, so that the student shall have a reasonable share of the work.” (page 1)

What is a problem  in mathematics? A problem is “any task or activity for which the students have no prescribed or memorized rules or methods, nor is there a perception by students that there is a specific ‘correct’ solution method” (Hiebert, et. al., 1997). Problem solving in mathematics is one of the most important topics to teach; learning to problem solve helps students develop a sense of solving real-life problems and apply mathematics to real world situations. It is also used for a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Learning “math facts” is not enough; students must also learn how to use these facts to develop their thinking skills.

According to NCTM (2010), the term “problem solving” refers to mathematical tasks that have the potential to provide intellectual challenges for enhancing students’ mathematical understanding and development. When you first hear “problem solving,” what do you think about? Story problems or word problems? Story problems may be limited to and not “problematic” enough. For example, you may ask students to find the area of a rectangle, given the length and width. This type of problem is an exercise in computation and can be completed mindlessly without understanding the concept of area. Worthwhile problems  includes problems that are truly problematic and have the potential to provide contexts for students’ mathematical development.

There are three ways to solve problems: teaching for problem solving, teaching about problem solving, and teaching through problem solving.

Teaching for problem solving begins with learning a skill. For example, students are learning how to multiply a two-digit number by a one-digit number, and the story problems you select are multiplication problems. Be sure when you are teaching for problem solving, you select or develop tasks that can promote the development of mathematical understanding.

Teaching about problem solving begins with suggested strategies to solve a problem. For example, “draw a picture,” “make a table,” etc. You may see posters in teachers’ classrooms of the “Problem Solving Method” such as: 1) Read the problem, 2) Devise a plan, 3) Solve the problem, and 4) Check your work. There is little or no evidence that students’ problem-solving abilities are improved when teaching about problem solving. Students will see a word problem as a separate endeavor and focus on the steps to follow rather than the mathematics. In addition, students will tend to use trial and error instead of focusing on sense making.

Teaching through problem solving  focuses students’ attention on ideas and sense making and develops mathematical practices. Teaching through problem solving also develops a student’s confidence and builds on their strengths. It allows for collaboration among students and engages students in their own learning.

Consider the following worthwhile-problem criteria developed by Lappan and Phillips (1998):

  • The problem has important, useful mathematics embedded in it.
  • The problem requires high-level thinking and problem solving.
  • The problem contributes to the conceptual development of students.
  • The problem creates an opportunity for the teacher to assess what his or her students are learning and where they are experiencing difficulty.
  • The problem can be approached by students in multiple ways using different solution strategies.
  • The problem has various solutions or allows different decisions or positions to be taken and defended.
  • The problem encourages student engagement and discourse.
  • The problem connects to other important mathematical ideas.
  • The problem promotes the skillful use of mathematics.
  • The problem provides an opportunity to practice important skills.

Of course, not every problem will include all of the above. Sometimes, you will choose a problem because your students need an opportunity to practice a certain skill.

Key features of a good mathematics problem includes:

  • It must begin where the students are mathematically.
  • The feature of the problem must be the mathematics that students are to learn.
  • It must require justifications and explanations for both answers and methods of solving.

Needlepoint of cats

Problem solving is not a  neat and orderly process. Think about needlework. On the front side, it is neat and perfect and pretty.

Back of a needlepoint

But look at the b ack.

It is messy and full of knots and loops. Problem solving in mathematics is also like this and we need to help our students be “messy” with problem solving; they need to go through those knots and loops and learn how to solve problems with the teacher’s guidance.

When you teach through problem solving , your students are focused on ideas and sense-making and they develop confidence in mathematics!

Mathematics Tasks and Activities that Promote Teaching through Problem Solving

Teacher teaching a math lesson

Choosing the Right Task

Selecting activities and/or tasks is the most significant decision teachers make that will affect students’ learning. Consider the following questions:

  • Teachers must do the activity first. What is problematic about the activity? What will you need to do BEFORE the activity and AFTER the activity? Additionally, think how your students would do the activity.
  • What mathematical ideas will the activity develop? Are there connections to other related mathematics topics, or other content areas?
  • Can the activity accomplish your learning objective/goals?

problem solving maths tasks

Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks

By definition, a “ low floor/high ceiling task ” is a mathematical activity where everyone in the group can begin and then work on at their own level of engagement. Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks are activities that everyone can begin and work on based on their own level, and have many possibilities for students to do more challenging mathematics. One gauge of knowing whether an activity is a Low Floor High Ceiling Task is when the work on the problems becomes more important than the answer itself, and leads to rich mathematical discourse [Hover: ways of representing, thinking, talking, agreeing, and disagreeing; the way ideas are exchanged and what the ideas entail; and as being shaped by the tasks in which students engage as well as by the nature of the learning environment].

The strengths of using Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks:

  • Allows students to show what they can do, not what they can’t.
  • Provides differentiation to all students.
  • Promotes a positive classroom environment.
  • Advances a growth mindset in students
  • Aligns with the Standards for Mathematical Practice

Examples of some Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks can be found at the following sites:

  • YouCubed – under grades choose Low Floor High Ceiling
  • NRICH Creating a Low Threshold High Ceiling Classroom
  • Inside Mathematics Problems of the Month

Math in 3-Acts

Math in 3-Acts was developed by Dan Meyer to spark an interest in and engage students in thought-provoking mathematical inquiry. Math in 3-Acts is a whole-group mathematics task consisting of three distinct parts:

Act One is about noticing and wondering. The teacher shares with students an image, video, or other situation that is engaging and perplexing. Students then generate questions about the situation.

In Act Two , the teacher offers some information for the students to use as they find the solutions to the problem.

Act Three is the “reveal.” Students share their thinking as well as their solutions.

“Math in 3 Acts” is a fun way to engage your students, there is a low entry point that gives students confidence, there are multiple paths to a solution, and it encourages students to work in groups to solve the problem. Some examples of Math in 3-Acts can be found at the following websites:

  • Dan Meyer’s Three-Act Math Tasks
  • Graham Fletcher3-Act Tasks ]
  • Math in 3-Acts: Real World Math Problems to Make Math Contextual, Visual and Concrete

Number Talks

Number talks are brief, 5-15 minute discussions that focus on student solutions for a mental math computation problem. Students share their different mental math processes aloud while the teacher records their thinking visually on a chart or board. In addition, students learn from each other’s strategies as they question, critique, or build on the strategies that are shared.. To use a “number talk,” you would include the following steps:

  • The teacher presents a problem for students to solve mentally.
  • Provide adequate “ wait time .”
  • The teacher calls on a students and asks, “What were you thinking?” and “Explain your thinking.”
  • For each student who volunteers to share their strategy, write their thinking on the board. Make sure to accurately record their thinking; do not correct their responses.
  • Invite students to question each other about their strategies, compare and contrast the strategies, and ask for clarification about strategies that are confusing.

“Number Talks” can be used as an introduction, a warm up to a lesson, or an extension. Some examples of Number Talks can be found at the following websites:

  • Inside Mathematics Number Talks
  • Number Talks Build Numerical Reasoning

Light bulb

Saying “This is Easy”

“This is easy.” Three little words that can have a big impact on students. What may be “easy” for one person, may be more “difficult” for someone else. And saying “this is easy” defeats the purpose of a growth mindset classroom, where students are comfortable making mistakes.

When the teacher says, “this is easy,” students may think,

  • “Everyone else understands and I don’t. I can’t do this!”
  • Students may just give up and surrender the mathematics to their classmates.
  • Students may shut down.

Instead, you and your students could say the following:

  • “I think I can do this.”
  • “I have an idea I want to try.”
  • “I’ve seen this kind of problem before.”

Tracy Zager wrote a short article, “This is easy”: The Little Phrase That Causes Big Problems” that can give you more information. Read Tracy Zager’s article here.

Using “Worksheets”

Do you want your students to memorize concepts, or do you want them to understand and apply the mathematics for different situations?

What is a “worksheet” in mathematics? It is a paper and pencil assignment when no other materials are used. A worksheet does not allow your students to use hands-on materials/manipulatives [Hover: physical objects that are used as teaching tools to engage students in the hands-on learning of mathematics]; and worksheets are many times “naked number” with no context. And a worksheet should not be used to enhance a hands-on activity.

Students need time to explore and manipulate materials in order to learn the mathematics concept. Worksheets are just a test of rote memory. Students need to develop those higher-order thinking skills, and worksheets will not allow them to do that.

One productive belief from the NCTM publication, Principles to Action (2014), states, “Students at all grade levels can benefit from the use of physical and virtual manipulative materials to provide visual models of a range of mathematical ideas.”

You may need an “activity sheet,” a “graphic organizer,” etc. as you plan your mathematics activities/lessons, but be sure to include hands-on manipulatives. Using manipulatives can

  • Provide your students a bridge between the concrete and abstract
  • Serve as models that support students’ thinking
  • Provide another representation
  • Support student engagement
  • Give students ownership of their own learning.

Adapted from “ The Top 5 Reasons for Using Manipulatives in the Classroom ”.

any task or activity for which the students have no prescribed or memorized rules or methods, nor is there a perception by students that there is a specific ‘correct’ solution method

should be intriguing and contain a level of challenge that invites speculation and hard work, and directs students to investigate important mathematical ideas and ways of thinking toward the learning

involves teaching a skill so that a student can later solve a story problem

when we teach students how to problem solve

teaching mathematics content through real contexts, problems, situations, and models

a mathematical activity where everyone in the group can begin and then work on at their own level of engagement

20 seconds to 2 minutes for students to make sense of questions

Mathematics Methods for Early Childhood Copyright © 2021 by Janet Stramel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Problem Solving

 A selection of resources containing a wide range of open-ended tasks, practical tasks, investigations and real life problems, to support investigative work and problem solving in primary mathematics.

Problem Solving in Primary Maths - the Session

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: Teachers TV

In this programme shows a group of four upper Key Stage Two children working on a challenging problem; looking at the interior and exterior angles of polygons and how they relate to the number of sides. The problem requires the children to listen to each other and to work together co-operatively. The two boys and two girls are closely observed as they consider how to tackle the problem, make mistakes, get stuck and arrive at the "eureka" moment. They organise the data they collect and are then able to spot patterns and relate them to the original problem to find a formula to work out the exterior angle of any polygon. At the end of the session the children report back to Mark, explaining how they arrived at the solution, an important part of the problem solving process.

In a  second video  two maths experts discuss some of the challenges of teaching problem solving. This includes how and at what stage to introduce problem solving strategies and the appropriate moment to intervene when children find tasks difficult. They also discuss how problem solving in the curriculum also helps to develop life skills.

Cards for Cubes: Problem Solving Activities for Young Children

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: Claire Publications

This book provides a series of problem solving activities involving cubes. The tasks start simply and progress to more complicated activities so could be used for different ages within Key Stages One and Two depending on ability. The first task is a challenge to create a camel with 50 cubes that doesn't fall over. Different characters are introduced throughout the book and challenges set to create various animals, monsters and structures using different numbers of cubes. Problems are set to incorporate different areas of mathematical problem solving they are: using maths, number, algebra and measure.

problem solving maths tasks

Problem solving with EYFS, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two children

Quality Assured Category: Computing Publisher: Department for Education

These three resources, from the National Strategies, focus on solving problems.

  Logic problems and puzzles  identifies the strategies children may use and the learning approaches teachers can plan to teach problem solving. There are two lessons for each age group.

Finding all possibilities focuses on one particular strategy, finding all possibilities. Other resources that would enhance the problem solving process are listed, these include practical apparatus, the use of ICT and in particular Interactive Teaching Programs .

Finding rules and describing patterns focuses on problems that fall into the category 'patterns and relationships'. There are seven activities across the year groups. Each activity includes objectives, learning outcomes, resources, vocabulary and prior knowledge required. Each lesson is structured with a main teaching activity, drawing together and a plenary, including probing questions.

problem solving maths tasks

Primary mathematics classroom resources

Quality Assured Collection Category: Mathematics Publisher: Association of Teachers of Mathematics

This selection of 5 resources is a mixture of problem-solving tasks, open-ended tasks, games and puzzles designed to develop students' understanding and application of mathematics.

Thinking for Ourselves: These activities, from the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) publication 'Thinking for Ourselves’, provide a variety of contexts in which students are encouraged to think for themselves. Activity 1: In the bag – More or less requires students to record how many more or less cubes in total...

8 Days a Week: The resource consists of eight questions, one for each day of the week and one extra. The questions explore odd numbers, sequences, prime numbers, fractions, multiplication and division.

Number Picnic: The problems make ideal starter activities

Matchstick Problems: Contains two activities concentrating upon the process of counting and spotting patterns. Uses id eas about the properties of number and the use of knowledge and reasoning to work out the rules.

Colours: Use logic, thinking skills and organisational skills to decide which information is useful and which is irrelevant in order to find the solution.

problem solving maths tasks

GAIM Activities: Practical Problems

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: Nelson Thornes

Designed for secondary learners, but could also be used to enrich the learning of upper primary children, looking for a challenge. These are open-ended tasks encourage children to apply and develop mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding and to integrate these in order to make decisions and draw conclusions.

Examples include:

*Every Second Counts - Using transport timetables, maps and knowledge of speeds to plan a route leading as far away from school as possible in one hour.

*Beach Guest House - Booking guests into appropriate rooms in a hotel.

*Cemetery Maths - Collecting relevant data from a visit to a local graveyard or a cemetery for testing a hypothesis.

*Design a Table - Involving diagrams, measurements, scale.

problem solving maths tasks

Go Further with Investigations

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: Collins Educational

A collection of 40 investigations designed for use with the whole class or smaller groups. It is aimed at upper KS2 but some activities may be adapted for use with more able children in lower KS2. It covers different curriculum areas of mathematics.

problem solving maths tasks

Starting Investigations

The forty student investigations in this book are non-sequential and focus mainly on the mathematical topics of addition, subtraction, number, shape and colour patterns, and money.

The apparatus required for each investigation is given on the student sheets and generally include items such as dice, counters, number cards and rods. The sheets are written using as few words as possible in order to enable students to begin working with the minimum of reading.

NRICH Primary Activities

Explore the NRICH primary tasks which aim to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. Lots of whole class open ended investigations and problem solving tasks. These tasks really get children thinking!

Mathematical reasoning: activities for developing thinking skills

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: SMILE

problem solving maths tasks

Problem Solving 2

Reasoning about numbers, with challenges and simplifications.

Quality Assured Category: Mathematics Publisher: Department for Education

The home of mathematics education in New Zealand.

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  • Problem solving activities

Problem Solving

This section of the nzmaths website has problem-solving lessons that you can use in your maths programme. The lessons provide coverage of Levels 1 to 6 of The New Zealand Curriculum. The lessons are organised by level and curriculum strand.  Accompanying each lesson is a copymaster of the problem in English and in Māori. 

Choose a problem that involves your students in applying current learning. Remember that the context of most problems can be adapted to suit your students and your current class inquiry. Customise the problems for your class.

  • Level 1 Problems
  • Level 2 Problems
  • Level 3 Problems
  • Level 4 Problems
  • Level 5 Problems
  • Level 6 Problems

The site also includes Problem Solving Information . This provides you with practical information about how to implement problem solving in your maths programme as well as some of the philosophical ideas behind problem solving. We also have a collection of problems and solutions for students to use independently.

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3 Problem-Solving Math Activities

Scottie Altland · September 5, 2018 · 1 Comment

Try some of these easy and fun problem-solving math activities with your student today!

A problem is simply a “problem” because there is no immediate, known solution. Problem solving activities in mathematics extend well beyond traditional word problems .

You can provide your student with activities that promote application of math skills while “busting boredom” at the same time! Puzzles and riddles, patterns, and logic problems can all be valuable exercises for students at all levels of mathematics. By engaging in short, fun activities like these, you can help your student become a more skillful, resilient, and successful problem-solver.

When practicing problem-solving skills, be certain to give your student time to explore a problem on her own to see how they might get started. Then discuss their approach together. It is important to provide support during the problem-solving process by showing that you value their ideas and helping them to see that mistakes can be useful. You can do this by asking open-ended questions to help your student gain a starting point, focus on a particular strategy, or help see a pattern or relationship. Questions such as, “What have you done before like this?”, “What can be made from …?” or “What might happen if you change…?” may serve as prompts when they needs inspiration.

Try the activities below to boost your student’s problem-solving skills.

Download the activities here .

1) Toothpick Puzzles

Toothpick puzzles (also referred to as matchstick puzzles) provide students a visualization challenge by applying their knowledge of basic geometric shapes and orientations. The only supplies you need are a box of toothpicks, a workspace, and a puzzle to solve. The goal is for students to transform given geometric figures into others by adding, moving, or removing toothpicks. These puzzles range in complexity and can be found online or in math puzzle books. As an extension, challenge your student to create their own puzzle for someone else to solve.

Sample toothpick puzzles of varying difficulty:

problem solving maths tasks

Download solutions to this activity here.

2) Fencing Numbers

The goal of this activity is to create a border or “fence” around each numeral by connecting dots horizontally and vertically so that each digit is bordered by the correct number of line segments.

Print a sheet of dot paper .

Use pencils and scissors to cut the size grid you want to use.

This game can be modified for abilities by adjusting the size of the grid and amount of numerals written. For example, a beginning student might begin with a grid that is 5 x 5 dots with a total of four numerals, while a more advanced student might increase the grid to 7 x 7 dots with six to eight numerals.

Begin by writing the digits 0, 1, 2, and 3 spread repeatedly in between “squares” on the dot paper. Each digit represents the number of line segments that will surround that square. For instance, a square that contains a 3 would have line segments on three sides, and a square that contains a 2 would have line segments on two sides, and so on. See the example boards and solutions for a 5 x 5 grid below.

Beware; there may be multiple solutions for the same problem! Thus, encourage your student to replicate the same problem grid multiple times and look for different solutions. A more advanced student can be challenged to create their own problem. Can they make a grid with only one solution? Is it possible to make a problem with four or more possible solutions?

problem solving maths tasks

3) It’s Knot a Problem!

Exercise lateral thinking skills– solving a problem through an indirect and creative approach that is not immediately obvious. You need two people, two pieces of string (or yarn) about one meter long each (or long enough so the person who will wear it can easily step over it), and some empty space to move around. If possible, use two different colored pieces of string. Each person needs a piece of string with a loop tied in both ends so it can be worn like “handcuffs”. Before tying off the loop on the second wrist, the participants loop the string around each other so they are hooked together. The figure below illustrates how the strings should appear when completed.

The goal is to unhook the strings while following these guidelines:

1) The string must remain tied and may not be removed from either participant’s wrists. 2) The string cannot be broken, cut, or damaged in any way.

Caution! This activity not only tests problem-solving skills, but it also promotes positive communication, teamwork, and persistence.

problem solving maths tasks

Problem-solving skills are not always taught directly but often learned indirectly through experience and practice. When incorporating problem solving activities aim to make them open-ended and playful to keep your student engaged. Incorporating fun activities like these from time to time foster creative and flexible thinking and can help your student transfer problem solving skills to other subject areas. By providing guidance and helping your student to see a problem from different perspectives, you will help foster a positive disposition towards problem-solving. As your student continues to learn how to effectively solve problems, they increase their understanding of the world around them and develop the tools they need to make decisions about the way they approach a problem.

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February 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

The ideas are very brilliant it encourages critical thinking and also help student think for a solution. Awesome!😍

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Engaging Summer Math Activities & Games

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11 Effective Ways to Promote Math Fact Fluency

Three math activities are featured.

9 Simple Math Games for Preschoolers

Exploring Fractions

Age 5 to 11.

Published 2013 Revised 2019

  • The first group  gives you some starting points to explore with your class, which are applicable to a wide range of ages.  The tasks in this first group will build on children's current understanding of fractions and will help them get to grips with the concept of the part-whole relationship. 
  • The second group of tasks  focuses on the progression of ideas associated with fractions, through a problem-solving lens.  So, the tasks in this second group are curriculum-linked but crucially also offer opportunities for learners to develop their problem-solving and reasoning skills.   

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  • are applicable to a range of ages;
  • provide contexts in which to explore the part-whole relationship in depth;
  • offer opportunities to develop conceptual understanding through talk.

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  • Authentic tasks
  • F - 10 Resources

Authentic tasks are designed to help students see mathematics as worthwhile and important. When students understand the purpose of a given problem in mathematics, they are more likely to persist when challenged. Authentic tasks generally have an ‘open middle’ which means that students can use different representations and solutions to communicate their knowledge and reasoning.

These curated links provide MAV members with access to nine authentic tasks from some of our primary consultants’ favourite resources. The 11 criteria provide MAV members with a research-informed context to consider each task’s potential impact on student thinking, ways of working, attitudes towards mathematics, their knowledge and understanding.

The following criteria was used to select the tasks based on their potential:

Used with permission © Martin Holt Educational Consultant 2017

If you would like to learn more about this approach to assessing or using tasks contact [email protected]

Statistics and probability

Measurement and geometry, number and algebra.

These MAV support pages were produced using Strategic Partnership Program funding from the Department of Education and Training.

These support pages were produced using Strategic Partnership Program funding from the Department of Education and Training.

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2. Classroom Challenges (Mathematics Assessment Resource Services, Nottingham) – Formative assessment lessons for Grade 6 – The resources on this website are amazing! You will find many wonderful problem solving tasks with teacher guides describing what to do before, during and after the lesson. For example, preview this resource entitled Solving Real-Life Problems: Selling Soup (University of Nottingham & UC Berkeley, 2014)

2. Problems of the Month, from Inside Mathematics ( http://www.insidemathematics.org/index.php ). These tasks are developed and owned by the  Shell Centre for Mathematical Education , University of Nottingham, England.

– 4th Grade                               – 5th Grade                                 – 6th Grade

3. Robert Kaplinsky’s tasks  are beautifully designed and bring problem solving to life!

4. Stuffed with Pizza – A fractions performance task, New York City Department of Education.

5. Houghton Mifflin Math – Problem Solving  application of strategies

6. Houghton Mifflin Math – Investigations

7. Parallel and Open Task Problem-Solving Math Bank (Ontario Teachers’ Federation)

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Fun teaching resources & tips to help you teach math with confidence

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Engaging & Rich Math Tasks to Reach Every Student

Looking for deep and meaningful ways to challenge your students? Think rich tasks are only for your advanced students? Think again!

All students learn more and retain more when they are given opportunities to engage with meaningful math problems through inquiry. All students benefit from being pushed just beyond their capabilities and engage in a little productive struggle.

What Does Teaching Through Problem Solving Look Like?

Typically in a math classroom, the structure and routine looks like this: the teacher gives examples and works out math problems. The class then works together on some additional examples through guided practice. Finally, students are given a set of problems to try on their own. They’re finally ready for independent work!

What’s the problem with this method?

For one, to be perfectly honest, it’s boring. Watching the teacher work out problem after problem is tedious and just not fun .

And I know you might be thinking, “Ok, but not everything can be fun. Cleaning the bathroom is not fun, but it still has to be done.”

And I hear you! Certainly, there are times when we just have to suck it up and do the hard work, even if it’s not all fun and games.

But if we want kids excited and engaged in the learning process, we have to actually give them a chance to engage in the learning process. 

So what does this look like? Take that earlier example of a day in the typical math classroom and turn it on it’s head.

Meaning rather than moving from I do to we do and then finally you do , you start with you do . This means you start the lesson by giving students a rich math task that is just a little beyond their comfort zone.

Ready to dive right in? Check out my complete online training course on teaching through problem solving & inquiry:

>>> Problem Solved: How to Teach Math Through Problem Solving & Inquiry

What constitutes a rich math task.

Though this might sound complicated or like you’ll have to completely re-invent the wheel, it’s definitely not! It simply means you start by challenging kids with a problem that has not yet been explicitly taught . (Notice I said not yet taught. Please know that direct teacher instruction is still important and still has it’s place. I just believe it should come later in your lesson).

This could be as simple as a word problem from the next section of your fraction unit.

It could be a visual math task or puzzle.

It could be a more involved, ongoing project that allows kids to use and apply what they know and build on it over time.

It could simply be a question that forces your kids to think, such as “Which is greater, 2/4 or 3/8?”

For more ideas about what makes a math task rich, consider these questions:

  • Is it new content that is related to something my students already know?
  • Is it a low-floor, high-ceiling task that every single student can engage with?
  • Can the problem be solved in multiple ways , using multiple strategies ?
  • Is it, or does it allow for visualization using pictures and models?
  • Does it relate to students interests or everyday life in some way?

Please note that any given task is not going to check off every single one of these boxes. These questions are simply meant to guide you as you think about and prepare math lessons using meaningful, rich math tasks for your students.

What if a Math Task is Total Flop?

What do you do when you have a problem that you’re excited about and you present it to your students only to find that it doesn’t engage them at all, or it’s completely beyond their abilities?

First, don’t stress! Not every task is going to be a winner or be the perfect fit for where your kids are mathematically.

Instead, consider why it did not go well:

  • Was the math just a little too far beyond what your students were ready for? If so, adjust the task to include simpler numbers or try again with a little more guidance from you as the teacher.
  • Was the topic of the task of no interest to them? Maybe you picked a work problem that you thought would relate to their lives, but it just didn’t. Try asking them what their interests are to see if you can tweak the problem to relate to something they are excited about!
  • Was it too closed, with only one solution and method? Try opening it up by removing some of the parameters. This will turn it into a problem with multiple possible solutions. Or consider a task that covers the same math skill, but can be solved using multiple methods or visual tools. This will allow students more room to explore and think through the task.

Ready to Engage Your Students with Rich Math Tasks? Try These!

Below you will find an ever-growing list of meaningful and engaging tasks to help your students make sense of math. Click on any of the graphics to learn more about the task or activity and grab your FREE download!

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Original research article, mathematical problem-solving through cooperative learning—the importance of peer acceptance and friendships.


  • 1 Department of Education, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 2 Department of Education, Culture and Communication, Malardalen University, Vasteras, Sweden
  • 3 School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Sodertorn University, Huddinge, Sweden
  • 4 Faculty of Education, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

Mathematical problem-solving constitutes an important area of mathematics instruction, and there is a need for research on instructional approaches supporting student learning in this area. This study aims to contribute to previous research by studying the effects of an instructional approach of cooperative learning on students’ mathematical problem-solving in heterogeneous classrooms in grade five, in which students with special needs are educated alongside with their peers. The intervention combined a cooperative learning approach with instruction in problem-solving strategies including mathematical models of multiplication/division, proportionality, and geometry. The teachers in the experimental group received training in cooperative learning and mathematical problem-solving, and implemented the intervention for 15 weeks. The teachers in the control group received training in mathematical problem-solving and provided instruction as they would usually. Students (269 in the intervention and 312 in the control group) participated in tests of mathematical problem-solving in the areas of multiplication/division, proportionality, and geometry before and after the intervention. The results revealed significant effects of the intervention on student performance in overall problem-solving and problem-solving in geometry. The students who received higher scores on social acceptance and friendships for the pre-test also received higher scores on the selected tests of mathematical problem-solving. Thus, the cooperative learning approach may lead to gains in mathematical problem-solving in heterogeneous classrooms, but social acceptance and friendships may also greatly impact students’ results.


The research on instruction in mathematical problem-solving has progressed considerably during recent decades. Yet, there is still a need to advance our knowledge on how teachers can support their students in carrying out this complex activity ( Lester and Cai, 2016 ). Results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that only 53% of students from the participating countries could solve problems requiring more than direct inference and using representations from different information sources ( OECD, 2019 ). In addition, OECD (2019) reported a large variation in achievement with regard to students’ diverse backgrounds. Thus, there is a need for instructional approaches to promote students’ problem-solving in mathematics, especially in heterogeneous classrooms in which students with diverse backgrounds and needs are educated together. Small group instructional approaches have been suggested as important to promote learning of low-achieving students and students with special needs ( Kunsch et al., 2007 ). One such approach is cooperative learning (CL), which involves structured collaboration in heterogeneous groups, guided by five principles to enhance group cohesion ( Johnson et al., 1993 ; Johnson et al., 2009 ; Gillies, 2016 ). While CL has been well-researched in whole classroom approaches ( Capar and Tarim, 2015 ), few studies of the approach exist with regard to students with special educational needs (SEN; McMaster and Fuchs, 2002 ). This study contributes to previous research by studying the effects of the CL approach on students’ mathematical problem-solving in heterogeneous classrooms, in which students with special needs are educated alongside with their peers.

Group collaboration through the CL approach is structured in accordance with five principles of collaboration: positive interdependence, individual accountability, explicit instruction in social skills, promotive interaction, and group processing ( Johnson et al., 1993 ). First, the group tasks need to be structured so that all group members feel dependent on each other in the completion of the task, thus promoting positive interdependence. Second, for individual accountability, the teacher needs to assure that each group member feels responsible for his or her share of work, by providing opportunities for individual reports or evaluations. Third, the students need explicit instruction in social skills that are necessary for collaboration. Fourth, the tasks and seat arrangements should be designed to promote interaction among group members. Fifth, time needs to be allocated to group processing, through which group members can evaluate their collaborative work to plan future actions. Using these principles for cooperation leads to gains in mathematics, according to Capar and Tarim (2015) , who conducted a meta-analysis on studies of cooperative learning and mathematics, and found an increase of .59 on students’ mathematics achievement scores in general. However, the number of reviewed studies was limited, and researchers suggested a need for more research. In the current study, we focused on the effect of CL approach in a specific area of mathematics: problem-solving.

Mathematical problem-solving is a central area of mathematics instruction, constituting an important part of preparing students to function in modern society ( Gravemeijer et al., 2017 ). In fact, problem-solving instruction creates opportunities for students to apply their knowledge of mathematical concepts, integrate and connect isolated pieces of mathematical knowledge, and attain a deeper conceptual understanding of mathematics as a subject ( Lester and Cai, 2016 ). Some researchers suggest that mathematics itself is a science of problem-solving and of developing theories and methods for problem-solving ( Hamilton, 2007 ; Davydov, 2008 ).

Problem-solving processes have been studied from different perspectives ( Lesh and Zawojewski, 2007 ). Problem-solving heuristics Pólya, (1948) has largely influenced our perceptions of problem-solving, including four principles: understanding the problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan, and looking back and reflecting upon the suggested solution. Schoenfield, (2016) suggested the use of specific problem-solving strategies for different types of problems, which take into consideration metacognitive processes and students’ beliefs about problem-solving. Further, models and modelling perspectives on mathematics ( Lesh and Doerr, 2003 ; Lesh and Zawojewski, 2007 ) emphasize the importance of engaging students in model-eliciting activities in which problem situations are interpreted mathematically, as students make connections between problem information and knowledge of mathematical operations, patterns, and rules ( Mousoulides et al., 2010 ; Stohlmann and Albarracín, 2016 ).

Not all students, however, find it easy to solve complex mathematical problems. Students may experience difficulties in identifying solution-relevant elements in a problem or visualizing appropriate solution to a problem situation. Furthermore, students may need help recognizing the underlying model in problems. For example, in two studies by Degrande et al. (2016) , students in grades four to six were presented with mathematical problems in the context of proportional reasoning. The authors found that the students, when presented with a word problem, could not identify an underlying model, but rather focused on superficial characteristics of the problem. Although the students in the study showed more success when presented with a problem formulated in symbols, the authors pointed out a need for activities that help students distinguish between different proportional problem types. Furthermore, students exhibiting specific learning difficulties may need additional support in both general problem-solving strategies ( Lein et al., 2020 ; Montague et al., 2014 ) and specific strategies pertaining to underlying models in problems. The CL intervention in the present study focused on supporting students in problem-solving, through instruction in problem-solving principles ( Pólya, 1948 ), specifically applied to three models of mathematical problem-solving—multiplication/division, geometry, and proportionality.

Students’ problem-solving may be enhanced through participation in small group discussions. In a small group setting, all the students have the opportunity to explain their solutions, clarify their thinking, and enhance understanding of a problem at hand ( Yackel et al., 1991 ; Webb and Mastergeorge, 2003 ). In fact, small group instruction promotes students’ learning in mathematics by providing students with opportunities to use language for reasoning and conceptual understanding ( Mercer and Sams, 2006 ), to exchange different representations of the problem at hand ( Fujita et al., 2019 ), and to become aware of and understand groupmates’ perspectives in thinking ( Kazak et al., 2015 ). These opportunities for learning are created through dialogic spaces characterized by openness to each other’s perspectives and solutions to mathematical problems ( Wegerif, 2011 ).

However, group collaboration is not only associated with positive experiences. In fact, studies show that some students may not be given equal opportunities to voice their opinions, due to academic status differences ( Langer-Osuna, 2016 ). Indeed, problem-solvers struggling with complex tasks may experience negative emotions, leading to uncertainty of not knowing the definite answer, which places demands on peer support ( Jordan and McDaniel, 2014 ; Hannula, 2015 ). Thus, especially in heterogeneous groups, students may need additional support to promote group interaction. Therefore, in this study, we used a cooperative learning approach, which, in contrast to collaborative learning approaches, puts greater focus on supporting group cohesion through instruction in social skills and time for reflection on group work ( Davidson and Major, 2014 ).

Although cooperative learning approach is intended to promote cohesion and peer acceptance in heterogeneous groups ( Rzoska and Ward, 1991 ), previous studies indicate that challenges in group dynamics may lead to unequal participation ( Mulryan, 1992 ; Cohen, 1994 ). Peer-learning behaviours may impact students’ problem-solving ( Hwang and Hu, 2013 ) and working in groups with peers who are seen as friends may enhance students’ motivation to learn mathematics ( Deacon and Edwards, 2012 ). With the importance of peer support in mind, this study set out to investigate whether the results of the intervention using the CL approach are associated with students’ peer acceptance and friendships.

The Present Study

In previous research, the CL approach has shown to be a promising approach in teaching and learning mathematics ( Capar and Tarim, 2015 ), but fewer studies have been conducted in whole-class approaches in general and students with SEN in particular ( McMaster and Fuchs, 2002 ). This study aims to contribute to previous research by investigating the effect of CL intervention on students’ mathematical problem-solving in grade 5. With regard to the complexity of mathematical problem-solving ( Lesh and Zawojewski, 2007 ; Degrande et al., 2016 ; Stohlmann and Albarracín, 2016 ), the CL approach in this study was combined with problem-solving principles pertaining to three underlying models of problem-solving—multiplication/division, geometry, and proportionality. Furthermore, considering the importance of peer support in problem-solving in small groups ( Mulryan, 1992 ; Cohen, 1994 ; Hwang and Hu, 2013 ), the study investigated how peer acceptance and friendships were associated with the effect of the CL approach on students’ problem-solving abilities. The study aimed to find answers to the following research questions:

a) What is the effect of CL approach on students’ problem-solving in mathematics?

b) Are social acceptance and friendship associated with the effect of CL on students’ problem-solving in mathematics?


The participants were 958 students in grade 5 and their teachers. According to power analyses prior to the start of the study, 1,020 students and 51 classes were required, with an expected effect size of 0.30 and power of 80%, provided that there are 20 students per class and intraclass correlation is 0.10. An invitation to participate in the project was sent to teachers in five municipalities via e-mail. Furthermore, the information was posted on the website of Uppsala university and distributed via Facebook interest groups. As shown in Figure 1 , teachers of 1,165 students agreed to participate in the study, but informed consent was obtained only for 958 students (463 in the intervention and 495 in the control group). Further attrition occurred at pre- and post-measurement, resulting in 581 students’ tests as a basis for analyses (269 in the intervention and 312 in the control group). Fewer students (n = 493) were finally included in the analyses of the association of students’ social acceptance and friendships and the effect of CL on students’ mathematical problem-solving (219 in the intervention and 274 in the control group). The reasons for attrition included teacher drop out due to sick leave or personal circumstances (two teachers in the control group and five teachers in the intervention group). Furthermore, some students were sick on the day of data collection and some teachers did not send the test results to the researchers.


FIGURE 1 . Flow chart for participants included in data collection and data analysis.

As seen in Table 1 , classes in both intervention and control groups included 27 students on average. For 75% of the classes, there were 33–36% of students with SEN. In Sweden, no formal medical diagnosis is required for the identification of students with SEN. It is teachers and school welfare teams who decide students’ need for extra adaptations or special support ( Swedish National Educational Agency, 2014 ). The information on individual students’ type of SEN could not be obtained due to regulations on the protection of information about individuals ( SFS 2009 ). Therefore, the information on the number of students with SEN on class level was obtained through teacher reports.


TABLE 1 . Background characteristics of classes and teachers in intervention and control groups.


The intervention using the CL approach lasted for 15 weeks and the teachers worked with the CL approach three to four lessons per week. First, the teachers participated in two-days training on the CL approach, using an especially elaborated CL manual ( Klang et al., 2018 ). The training focused on the five principles of the CL approach (positive interdependence, individual accountability, explicit instruction in social skills, promotive interaction, and group processing). Following the training, the teachers introduced the CL approach in their classes and focused on group-building activities for 7 weeks. Then, 2 days of training were provided to teachers, in which the CL approach was embedded in activities in mathematical problem-solving and reading comprehension. Educational materials containing mathematical problems in the areas of multiplication and division, geometry, and proportionality were distributed to the teachers ( Karlsson and Kilborn, 2018a ). In addition to the specific problems, adapted for the CL approach, the educational materials contained guidance for the teachers, in which problem-solving principles ( Pólya, 1948 ) were presented as steps in problem-solving. Following the training, the teachers applied the CL approach in mathematical problem-solving lessons for 8 weeks.

Solving a problem is a matter of goal-oriented reasoning, starting from the understanding of the problem to devising its solution by using known mathematical models. This presupposes that the current problem is chosen from a known context ( Stillman et al., 2008 ; Zawojewski, 2010 ). This differs from the problem-solving of the textbooks, which is based on an aim to train already known formulas and procedures ( Hamilton, 2007 ). Moreover, it is important that students learn modelling according to their current abilities and conditions ( Russel, 1991 ).

In order to create similar conditions in the experiment group and the control group, the teachers were supposed to use the same educational material ( Karlsson and Kilborn, 2018a ; Karlsson and Kilborn, 2018b ), written in light of the specified view of problem-solving. The educational material is divided into three areas—multiplication/division, geometry, and proportionality—and begins with a short teachers’ guide, where a view of problem solving is presented, which is based on the work of Polya (1948) and Lester and Cai (2016) . The tasks are constructed in such a way that conceptual knowledge was in focus, not formulas and procedural knowledge.

Implementation of the Intervention

To ensure the implementation of the intervention, the researchers visited each teachers’ classroom twice during the two phases of the intervention period, as described above. During each visit, the researchers observed the lesson, using a checklist comprising the five principles of the CL approach. After the lesson, the researchers gave written and oral feedback to each teacher. As seen in Table 1 , in 18 of the 23 classes, the teachers implemented the intervention in accordance with the principles of CL. In addition, the teachers were asked to report on the use of the CL approach in their teaching and the use of problem-solving activities embedding CL during the intervention period. As shown in Table 1 , teachers in only 11 of 23 classes reported using the CL approach and problem-solving activities embedded in the CL approach at least once a week.

Control Group

The teachers in the control group received 2 days of instruction in enhancing students’ problem-solving and reading comprehension. The teachers were also supported with educational materials including mathematical problems Karlsson and Kilborn (2018b) and problem-solving principles ( Pólya, 1948 ). However, none of the activities during training or in educational materials included the CL approach. As seen in Table 1 , only 10 of 25 teachers reported devoting at least one lesson per week to mathematical problem-solving.

Tests of Mathematical Problem-Solving

Tests of mathematical problem-solving were administered before and after the intervention, which lasted for 15 weeks. The tests were focused on the models of multiplication/division, geometry, and proportionality. The three models were chosen based on the syllabus of the subject of mathematics in grades 4 to 6 in the Swedish National Curriculum ( Swedish National Educational Agency, 2018 ). In addition, the intention was to create a variation of types of problems to solve. For each of these three models, there were two tests, a pre-test and a post-test. Each test contained three tasks with increasing difficulty ( Supplementary Appendix SA ).

The tests of multiplication and division (Ma1) were chosen from different contexts and began with a one-step problem, while the following two tasks were multi-step problems. Concerning multiplication, many students in grade 5 still understand multiplication as repeated addition, causing significant problems, as this conception is not applicable to multiplication beyond natural numbers ( Verschaffel et al., 2007 ). This might be a hindrance in developing multiplicative reasoning ( Barmby et al., 2009 ). The multi-step problems in this study were constructed to support the students in multiplicative reasoning.

Concerning the geometry tests (Ma2), it was important to consider a paradigm shift concerning geometry in education that occurred in the mid-20th century, when strict Euclidean geometry gave way to other aspects of geometry like symmetry, transformation, and patterns. van Hiele (1986) prepared a new taxonomy for geometry in five steps, from a visual to a logical level. Therefore, in the tests there was a focus on properties of quadrangles and triangles, and how to determine areas by reorganising figures into new patterns. This means that structure was more important than formulas.

The construction of tests of proportionality (M3) was more complicated. Firstly, tasks on proportionality can be found in many different contexts, such as prescriptions, scales, speeds, discounts, interest, etc. Secondly, the mathematical model is complex and requires good knowledge of rational numbers and ratios ( Lesh et al., 1988 ). It also requires a developed view of multiplication, useful in operations with real numbers, not only as repeated addition, an operation limited to natural numbers ( Lybeck, 1981 ; Degrande et al., 2016 ). A linear structure of multiplication as repeated addition leads to limitations in terms of generalization and development of the concept of multiplication. This became evident in a study carried out in a Swedish context ( Karlsson and Kilborn, 2018c ). Proportionality can be expressed as a/b = c/d or as a/b = k. The latter can also be expressed as a = b∙k, where k is a constant that determines the relationship between a and b. Common examples of k are speed (km/h), scale, and interest (%). An important pre-knowledge in order to deal with proportions is to master fractions as equivalence classes like 1/3 = 2/6 = 3/9 = 4/12 = 5/15 = 6/18 = 7/21 = 8/24 … ( Karlsson and Kilborn, 2020 ). It was important to take all these aspects into account when constructing and assessing the solutions of the tasks.

The tests were graded by an experienced teacher of mathematics (4 th author) and two students in their final year of teacher training. Prior to grading, acceptable levels of inter-rater reliability were achieved by independent rating of students’ solutions and discussions in which differences between the graders were resolved. Each student response was to be assigned one point when it contained a correct answer and two points when the student provided argumentation for the correct answer and elaborated on explanation of his or her solution. The assessment was thus based on quality aspects with a focus on conceptual knowledge. As each subtest contained three questions, it generated three student solutions. So, scores for each subtest ranged from 0 to 6 points and for the total scores from 0 to 18 points. To ascertain that pre- and post-tests were equivalent in degree of difficulty, the tests were administered to an additional sample of 169 students in grade 5. Test for each model was conducted separately, as students participated in pre- and post-test for each model during the same lesson. The order of tests was switched for half of the students in order to avoid the effect of the order in which the pre- and post-tests were presented. Correlation between students’ performance on pre- and post-test was .39 ( p < 0.000) for tests of multiplication/division; .48 ( p < 0.000) for tests of geometry; and .56 ( p < 0.000) for tests of proportionality. Thus, the degree of difficulty may have differed between pre- and post-test.

Measures of Peer Acceptance and Friendships

To investigate students’ peer acceptance and friendships, peer nominations rated pre- and post-intervention were used. Students were asked to nominate peers who they preferred to work in groups with and who they preferred to be friends with. Negative peer nominations were avoided due to ethical considerations raised by teachers and parents ( Child and Nind, 2013 ). Unlimited nominations were used, as these are considered to have high ecological validity ( Cillessen and Marks, 2017 ). Peer nominations were used as a measure of social acceptance, and reciprocated nominations were used as a measure of friendship. The number of nominations for each student were aggregated and divided by the number of nominators to create a proportion of nominations for each student ( Velásquez et al., 2013 ).

Statistical Analyses

Multilevel regression analyses were conducted in R, lme4 package Bates et al. (2015) to account for nestedness in the data. Students’ classroom belonging was considered as a level 2 variable. First, we used a model in which students’ results on tests of problem-solving were studied as a function of time (pre- and post) and group belonging (intervention and control group). Second, the same model was applied to subgroups of students who performed above and below median at pre-test, to explore whether the CL intervention had a differential effect on student performance. In this second model, the results for subgroups of students could not be obtained for geometry tests for subgroup below median and for tests of proportionality for subgroup above median. A possible reason for this must have been the skewed distribution of the students in these subgroups. Therefore, another model was applied that investigated students’ performances in math at both pre- and post-test as a function of group belonging. Third, the students’ scores on social acceptance and friendships were added as an interaction term to the first model. In our previous study, students’ social acceptance changed as a result of the same CL intervention ( Klang et al., 2020 ).

The assumptions for the multilevel regression were assured during the analyses ( Snijders and Bosker, 2012 ). The assumption of normality of residuals were met, as controlled by visual inspection of quantile-quantile plots. For subgroups, however, the plotted residuals deviated somewhat from the straight line. The number of outliers, which had a studentized residual value greater than ±3, varied from 0 to 5, but none of the outliers had a Cook’s distance value larger than 1. The assumption of multicollinearity was met, as the variance inflation factors (VIF) did not exceed a value of 10. Before the analyses, the cases with missing data were deleted listwise.

What Is the Effect of the CL Approach on Students’ Problem-Solving in Mathematics?

As seen in the regression coefficients in Table 2 , the CL intervention had a significant effect on students’ mathematical problem-solving total scores and students’ scores in problem solving in geometry (Ma2). Judging by mean values, students in the intervention group appeared to have low scores on problem-solving in geometry but reached the levels of problem-solving of the control group by the end of the intervention. The intervention did not have a significant effect on students’ performance in problem-solving related to models of multiplication/division and proportionality.


TABLE 2 . Mean scores (standard deviation in parentheses) and unstandardized multilevel regression estimates for tests of mathematical problem-solving.

The question is, however, whether CL intervention affected students with different pre-test scores differently. Table 2 includes the regression coefficients for subgroups of students who performed below and above median at pre-test. As seen in the table, the CL approach did not have a significant effect on students’ problem-solving, when the sample was divided into these subgroups. A small negative effect was found for intervention group in comparison to control group, but confidence intervals (CI) for the effect indicate that it was not significant.

Is Social Acceptance and Friendships Associated With the Effect of CL on Students’ Problem-Solving in Mathematics?

As seen in Table 3 , students’ peer acceptance and friendship at pre-test were significantly associated with the effect of the CL approach on students’ mathematical problem-solving scores. Changes in students’ peer acceptance and friendships were not significantly associated with the effect of the CL approach on students’ mathematical problem-solving. Consequently, it can be concluded that being nominated by one’s peers and having friends at the start of the intervention may be an important factor when participation in group work, structured in accordance with the CL approach, leads to gains in mathematical problem-solving.


TABLE 3 . Mean scores (standard deviation in parentheses) and unstandardized multilevel regression estimates for tests of mathematical problem-solving, including scores of social acceptance and friendship in the model.

In light of the limited number of studies on the effects of CL on students’ problem-solving in whole classrooms ( Capar and Tarim, 2015 ), and for students with SEN in particular ( McMaster and Fuchs, 2002 ), this study sought to investigate whether the CL approach embedded in problem-solving activities has an effect on students’ problem-solving in heterogeneous classrooms. The need for the study was justified by the challenge of providing equitable mathematics instruction to heterogeneous student populations ( OECD, 2019 ). Small group instructional approaches as CL are considered as promising approaches in this regard ( Kunsch et al., 2007 ). The results showed a significant effect of the CL approach on students’ problem-solving in geometry and total problem-solving scores. In addition, with regard to the importance of peer support in problem-solving ( Deacon and Edwards, 2012 ; Hwang and Hu, 2013 ), the study explored whether the effect of CL on students’ problem-solving was associated with students’ social acceptance and friendships. The results showed that students’ peer acceptance and friendships at pre-test were significantly associated with the effect of the CL approach, while change in students’ peer acceptance and friendships from pre- to post-test was not.

The results of the study confirm previous research on the effect of the CL approach on students’ mathematical achievement ( Capar and Tarim, 2015 ). The specific contribution of the study is that it was conducted in classrooms, 75% of which were composed of 33–36% of students with SEN. Thus, while a previous review revealed inconclusive findings on the effects of CL on student achievement ( McMaster and Fuchs, 2002 ), the current study adds to the evidence of the effect of the CL approach in heterogeneous classrooms, in which students with special needs are educated alongside with their peers. In a small group setting, the students have opportunities to discuss their ideas of solutions to the problem at hand, providing explanations and clarifications, thus enhancing their understanding of problem-solving ( Yackel et al., 1991 ; Webb and Mastergeorge, 2003 ).

In this study, in accordance with previous research on mathematical problem-solving ( Lesh and Zawojewski, 2007 ; Degrande et al., 2016 ; Stohlmann and Albarracín, 2016 ), the CL approach was combined with training in problem-solving principles Pólya (1948) and educational materials, providing support in instruction in underlying mathematical models. The intention of the study was to provide evidence for the effectiveness of the CL approach above instruction in problem-solving, as problem-solving materials were accessible to teachers of both the intervention and control groups. However, due to implementation challenges, not all teachers in the intervention and control groups reported using educational materials and training as expected. Thus, it is not possible to draw conclusions of the effectiveness of the CL approach alone. However, in everyday classroom instruction it may be difficult to separate the content of instruction from the activities that are used to mediate this content ( Doerr and Tripp, 1999 ; Gravemeijer, 1999 ).

Furthermore, for successful instruction in mathematical problem-solving, scaffolding for content needs to be combined with scaffolding for dialogue ( Kazak et al., 2015 ). From a dialogical perspective ( Wegerif, 2011 ), students may need scaffolding in new ways of thinking, involving questioning their understandings and providing arguments for their solutions, in order to create dialogic spaces in which different solutions are voiced and negotiated. In this study, small group instruction through CL approach aimed to support discussions in small groups, but the study relies solely on quantitative measures of students’ mathematical performance. Video-recordings of students’ discussions may have yielded important insights into the dialogic relationships that arose in group discussions.

Despite the positive findings of the CL approach on students’ problem-solving, it is important to note that the intervention did not have an effect on students’ problem-solving pertaining to models of multiplication/division and proportionality. Although CL is assumed to be a promising instructional approach, the number of studies on its effect on students’ mathematical achievement is still limited ( Capar and Tarim, 2015 ). Thus, further research is needed on how CL intervention can be designed to promote students’ problem-solving in other areas of mathematics.

The results of this study show that the effect of the CL intervention on students’ problem-solving was associated with students’ initial scores of social acceptance and friendships. Thus, it is possible to assume that students who were popular among their classmates and had friends at the start of the intervention also made greater gains in mathematical problem-solving as a result of the CL intervention. This finding is in line with Deacon and Edwards’ study of the importance of friendships for students’ motivation to learn mathematics in small groups ( Deacon and Edwards, 2012 ). However, the effect of the CL intervention was not associated with change in students’ social acceptance and friendship scores. These results indicate that students who were nominated by a greater number of students and who received a greater number of friends did not benefit to a great extent from the CL intervention. With regard to previously reported inequalities in cooperation in heterogeneous groups ( Cohen, 1994 ; Mulryan, 1992 ; Langer Osuna, 2016 ) and the importance of peer behaviours for problem-solving ( Hwang and Hu, 2013 ), teachers should consider creating inclusive norms and supportive peer relationships when using the CL approach. The demands of solving complex problems may create negative emotions and uncertainty ( Hannula, 2015 ; Jordan and McDaniel, 2014 ), and peer support may be essential in such situations.


The conclusions from the study must be interpreted with caution, due to a number of limitations. First, due to the regulation of protection of individuals ( SFS 2009 ), the researchers could not get information on type of SEN for individual students, which limited the possibilities of the study for investigating the effects of the CL approach for these students. Second, not all teachers in the intervention group implemented the CL approach embedded in problem-solving activities and not all teachers in the control group reported using educational materials on problem-solving. The insufficient levels of implementation pose a significant challenge to the internal validity of the study. Third, the additional investigation to explore the equivalence in difficulty between pre- and post-test, including 169 students, revealed weak to moderate correlation in students’ performance scores, which may indicate challenges to the internal validity of the study.


The results of the study have some implications for practice. Based on the results of the significant effect of the CL intervention on students’ problem-solving, the CL approach appears to be a promising instructional approach in promoting students’ problem-solving. However, as the results of the CL approach were not significant for all subtests of problem-solving, and due to insufficient levels of implementation, it is not possible to conclude on the importance of the CL intervention for students’ problem-solving. Furthermore, it appears to be important to create opportunities for peer contacts and friendships when the CL approach is used in mathematical problem-solving activities.

Data Availability Statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics Statement

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by the Uppsala Ethical Regional Committee, Dnr. 2017/372. Written informed consent to participate in this study was provided by the participants’ legal guardian/next of kin.

Author Contributions

NiK was responsible for the project, and participated in data collection and data analyses. NaK and WK were responsible for intervention with special focus on the educational materials and tests in mathematical problem-solving. PE participated in the planning of the study and the data analyses, including coordinating analyses of students’ tests. MK participated in the designing and planning the study as well as data collection and data analyses.

The project was funded by the Swedish Research Council under Grant 2016-04,679.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


We would like to express our gratitude to teachers who participated in the project.

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2021.710296/full#supplementary-material

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Keywords: cooperative learning, mathematical problem-solving, intervention, heterogeneous classrooms, hierarchical linear regression analysis

Citation: Klang N, Karlsson N, Kilborn W, Eriksson P and Karlberg M (2021) Mathematical Problem-Solving Through Cooperative Learning—The Importance of Peer Acceptance and Friendships. Front. Educ. 6:710296. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.710296

Received: 15 May 2021; Accepted: 09 August 2021; Published: 24 August 2021.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2021 Klang, Karlsson, Kilborn, Eriksson and Karlberg. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Nina Klang, [email protected]


100+ Math Project Ideas for Every Enthusiast: Unleash Your Creativity

math project ideas

Mathematics is often seen as a challenging and dry subject, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, math can be a source of inspiration and creativity, especially when you engage in math project ideas. 

Whether you’re a student looking to enhance your math skills or simply someone who wants to explore the fascinating world of numbers and patterns, math projects offer a fantastic opportunity to learn, problem-solve, and have fun. 

In this blog, we will explore a variety of math project ideas suitable for everyone, regardless of your age or skill level.

Benefits of Math Projects

Table of Contents

Before we delve into the exciting world of math projects, let’s take a moment to understand why they are so valuable.

  • Enhancing Mathematical Skills: Math projects provide a hands-on approach to learning. They allow you to apply mathematical concepts to real-world problems, deepening your understanding of the subject.
  • Promoting Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: When you tackle a math project, you’re not just memorizing formulas; you’re actively solving problems. This fosters critical thinking skills and the ability to approach challenges with confidence.
  • Making Math Fun and Engaging: Math projects take the monotony out of traditional math exercises. They can be enjoyable and even spark a genuine passion for mathematics.
  • Fostering Creativity: Math is not just about numbers; it’s about exploring patterns and creating new solutions. Math projects encourage creativity and innovative thinking.

How to Choose the Right Math Project?

Selecting the right math project is crucial for your enjoyment and success. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Identify Your Interests and Goals: Are you interested in geometry, algebra, or statistics? Do you have a specific area of mathematics you want to explore, or are you looking for a more general project? Knowing your interests and goals will help you narrow down your choices.
  • Consider Your Skill Level: If you’re new to math projects, start with something that matches your current skill level. As you gain confidence, you can take on more challenging projects.
  • Explore Different Types of Math Projects: Math is a diverse field with countless applications. Explore various types of projects, from mathematical art to practical problem-solving, to find the one that excites you the most.
  • Seek Inspiration from Real-World Applications: Think about how math is used in everyday life. Whether it’s in architecture, finance, or sports, there are countless opportunities to apply math in practical and exciting ways.

100+ Math Project Ideas: Categories Wise

Now, let’s dive into the world of math projects and explore some inspiring ideas for each major branch of mathematics:

Geometry Projects

  • Create a geometric art piece using basic shapes.
  • Explore the concept of fractals and design your own fractal patterns.
  • Construct a model of a famous architectural landmark.
  • Investigate the properties of various polygons.
  • Design a themed garden using geometric patterns.
  • Build a 3D model of a geometric figure, like a dodecahedron.
  • Explore tessellations and create unique tiling patterns.
  • Calculate the volume and surface area of irregular objects.
  • Investigate the Golden Ratio and its applications in art and nature.
  • Study the geometry of constellations.

Algebra Projects

  • Create a budget for a hypothetical business or personal finance scenario.
  • Solve a system of equations to find the intersection point of two lines.
  • Analyze and model the spread of a contagious disease.
  • Investigate exponential growth and decay in real-world situations.
  • Explore the concept of inequalities and their applications.
  • Study the mathematics behind codes and ciphers.
  • Investigate the relationship between mathematical functions and real-world phenomena.
  • Create and solve algebraic word problems related to everyday life.
  • Model population growth of a species over time.
  • Analyze data trends using regression analysis.

Statistics Projects

  • Conduct a survey on a relevant topic and analyze the collected data.
  • Explore the correlation between two variables in a real-world context.
  • Investigate the Central Limit Theorem and conduct a sample distribution experiment.
  • Analyze the results of a sports season to make predictions.
  • Study the effects of various factors on student performance.
  • Conduct hypothesis testing on a specific scientific question.
  • Examine the distribution of ages in a population.
  • Compare different methods of data visualization for clarity.
  • Analyze stock market trends and make predictions.
  • Investigate the relationship between weather variables and climate change.

Real-World Applications

  • Plan a home renovation project within a budget.
  • Analyze the nutritional content of various food items and create healthy meal plans.
  • Calculate the carbon footprint of daily activities.
  • Plan the logistics of a road trip, including gas consumption and budgeting.
  • Design a public transportation system for a city.
  • Investigate the mathematical principles behind music theory.
  • Create a model for predicting election results.
  • Analyze the energy efficiency of home appliances.
  • Optimize routes for delivery services or public transportation.
  • Investigate the mathematical principles behind sports analytics.

Geometry and Art

  • Create a stained glass window design.
  • Craft a geometric pattern for a quilt.
  • Design an optical illusion artwork using geometric shapes.
  • Sculpt a 3D geometric figure from various materials.
  • Explore the symmetry in nature and create a nature-inspired artwork.
  • Design a 3D-printed geometric jewelry piece.
  • Investigate the math behind tessellation art and create your own patterns.
  • Craft a mandala with intricate geometric patterns.
  • Create a kaleidoscope using geometric shapes and mirrors.
  • Build a geodesic dome model using paper or other materials.

Algebra and Science

  • Analyze the physics of a pendulum and its equations.
  • Study the growth of bacterial populations in a petri dish.
  • Investigate the relationship between temperature and chemical reaction rates.
  • Model the spread of pollution in a water body.
  • Analyze the motion of objects on an inclined plane.
  • Study the electrical circuitry in household appliances.
  • Investigate the relationships between force, mass, and acceleration.
  • Explore the mathematics of sound waves and musical frequencies.
  • Analyze the mathematics behind heat conduction.
  • Model the oscillations of a simple harmonic oscillator.

Statistics and Social Sciences

  • Conduct a survey on political opinions and analyze the results.
  • Investigate the correlation between income and educational attainment.
  • Study the impact of social media usage on mental health.
  • Analyze crime rates in different neighborhoods and their correlations.
  • Investigate the factors influencing consumer purchasing decisions.
  • Analyze data related to climate change and its effects.
  • Study the statistical distribution of income in a country.
  • Investigate the relationship between education and job opportunities.
  • Analyze the effectiveness of different teaching methods.
  • Conduct a survey on the effects of technology on daily life and social interaction.

Real-World Applications and Engineering

  • Design an eco-friendly home with renewable energy sources.
  • Plan the layout and dimensions of a community garden.
  • Optimize the design of a bridge or other structural elements.
  • Calculate the energy efficiency of a solar power system.
  • Analyze the traffic flow in a city and suggest improvements.
  • Investigate the mathematical principles behind computer graphics.
  • Optimize packaging for a product to minimize waste.
  • Design a system for managing and conserving water resources.
  • Analyze the aerodynamics of a model airplane or car.
  • Investigate the mathematical principles behind robotics and automation.

Geometry and Nature

  • Study the geometry of crystals and their formations.
  • Investigate the mathematics behind the Fibonacci sequence in nature.
  • Analyze the geometry of plant growth and leaf arrangements.
  • Explore the symmetry in butterfly wing patterns.
  • Study the geometry of beehives and their efficient use of space.
  • Investigate the shapes of cloud formations and their mathematical properties.
  • Analyze the geometry of natural formations like canyons and caves.
  • Study the mathematical principles behind the formation of snowflakes.
  • Investigate the geometric patterns in seashells.
  • Analyze the mathematical properties of waves in the ocean.

Algebra and Technology

  • Design a mobile app or computer program for a specific task.
  • Analyze the algorithms behind internet search engines.
  • Study the encryption methods used in online security.
  • Investigate the mathematics behind data compression techniques .
  • Create a mathematical model for predicting stock market trends.
  • Analyze the mathematical principles behind artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Study the mathematical properties of various digital image formats.
  • Investigate the mathematics behind video game physics and graphics.
  • Analyze the algorithms used in GPS navigation systems.
  • Study the mathematics behind the encoding and decoding of digital information.

Real-World Applications: Why Math Project Ideas Matters

  • Architectural Designs: Explore the role of geometry and measurements in architectural designs. Create scale models of buildings, bridges, or structures.
  • Budget Planning: Develop a personal budget plan using algebraic equations to manage your finances effectively. Understand income, expenses, and savings.
  • Sports Analytics: Dive into the world of sports statistics and use data analysis to gain insights into players’ performance, game strategies, and player comparisons.

Tips for a Successful Math Project

No matter which math project you choose, there are some common principles that can help ensure your success:

  • Plan and Organize Your Project: Start with a clear plan, set goals, and establish a timeline. Organize your resources and gather the materials you need.
  • Collaborate with Peers or Mentors: Don’t be afraid to seek help or collaborate with others. Discuss your ideas with peers or mentors who can provide guidance and feedback.
  • Stay Persistent and Embrace Challenges: Math projects can be challenging, and you may encounter obstacles. Persistence is key. Don’t be discouraged by difficulties; they are opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Document and Present Your Findings Effectively: Keep a detailed record of your project, including your methods, findings, and any unexpected discoveries. Create a presentation or report to share your results with others.

Resources for Math Project Enthusiasts

For those eager to explore more math projects or seek guidance and inspiration, here are some valuable resources:

  • Books and Websites for Project Ideas: Numerous books and websites offer a wide range of math project ideas and step-by-step guides. Get service for math assignment help from experts of StatAnalytica. 
  • Online Communities and Forums: Join online communities and forums where math enthusiasts discuss projects, share their experiences, and seek advice.
  • Educational Tools and Software: Utilize educational tools and software that can assist in conducting math experiments, visualizing data, or solving complex equations.

Math project ideas offer a delightful journey into the world of mathematics, where you can explore, create, and learn in a way that is both engaging and rewarding. 

Whether you’re passionate about geometry, algebra, statistics, or real-world applications, there is a math project waiting for you. So, go ahead, pick a project that sparks your curiosity, and let your mathematical creativity flourish.

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Google can now solve trickier math problems for you with these new features


Math is a challenging subject because it requires an understanding of how to perform the operation to reach an answer, which makes it more difficult to Google an equation to find the answer difficult -- until now. 

Google added new updates to Search and Lens that make it easier for users to get assistance when solving math problems. All users have to do now is type the equation or integral into the Search bar, or take a picture with Lens to get a step-by-step explanation or solution. 

Also:  Chrome on iOS unveils a much-anticipated feature. Here's how to access it

To test out the experience for yourself, on desktop, you can type in an equation or type the term "Math Solver" on Google Search where you will be prompted to enter a math problem or select from the examples to see how it works. The math solver experience will be coming to mobile soon. 

Lens can also be leveraged by users to take a photo of geometry triangle problems, solving the challenge of trying to put primarily visual problems into words. 

Advancements in Google's large language models also give Search the capability to solve word problems. 

All you have to do is type the problem into Search, where you will be met with steps that tell you how to solve the problem by identifying the known and unknown values and providing correct formulas. 

Also: The AI I want to see in the world: 5 ways it could manage my Gmail inbox for me

Lastly, Google is also making it easier to explore STEM-related concepts on Search by including 3D models and interactive diagrams for almost 1,000 biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and related topics, according to Google. 

For example, if you Google "mitochondrion" you will have the opportunity to click on and learn from an interactive diagram that provides an overview, as well as specific details about the individual parts. 


Google's new tools help users verify the authenticity of images online faster


Google Meet's new touch-up feature will give you a quick makeover for your meeting


These two past Pixel phone problems are popping up again on Google's new flagship

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The math problem that took nearly a century to solve

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The math problem that took nearly a century to solve

What was Ramsey's problem, anyway?

A good problem fights back.

Journal information: arXiv

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Title: learning from mistakes makes llm better reasoner.

Abstract: Large language models (LLMs) recently exhibited remarkable reasoning capabilities on solving math problems. To further improve this capability, this work proposes Learning from Mistakes (LeMa), akin to human learning processes. Consider a human student who failed to solve a math problem, he will learn from what mistake he has made and how to correct it. Mimicking this error-driven learning process, LeMa fine-tunes LLMs on mistake-correction data pairs generated by GPT-4. Specifically, we first collect inaccurate reasoning paths from various LLMs and then employ GPT-4 as a "corrector" to (1) identify the mistake step, (2) explain the reason for the mistake, and (3) correct the mistake and generate the final answer. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of LeMa: across five backbone LLMs and two mathematical reasoning tasks, LeMa consistently improves the performance compared with fine-tuning on CoT data alone. Impressively, LeMa can also benefit specialized LLMs such as WizardMath and MetaMath, achieving 85.4% pass@1 accuracy on GSM8K and 27.1% on MATH. This surpasses the SOTA performance achieved by non-execution open-source models on these challenging tasks. Our code, data and models will be publicly available at this https URL .

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Maths Problem Solving Tasks 3

Maths Problem Solving Tasks 3

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  1. Free Math Worksheets

    Looking for free math worksheets? You've found something even better! That's because Khan Academy has over 100,000 free practice questions. And they're even better than traditional math worksheets - more instantaneous, more interactive, and more fun! Just choose your grade level or topic to get access to 100% free practice questions: Early math Kindergarten 1st […]

  2. NRICH

    The Nrich Maths Project Cambridge,England. Mathematics resources for children,parents and teachers to enrich learning. Problems,children's solutions,interactivities,games,articles. ... Free curriculum-linked resources to develop mathematical reasoning, and problem-solving skills Find more rich tasks, with teacher support, ...

  3. Problem Solving Activities: 7 Strategies

    Getting the Most from Each of the Problem Solving Activities. When students participate in problem solving activities, it is important to ask guiding, not leading, questions. This provides students with the support necessary to move forward in their thinking and it provides teachers with a more in-depth understanding of student thinking.

  4. Problem Solving

    Problem Solving. This feature is somewhat larger than our usual features, but that is because it is packed with resources to help you develop a problem-solving approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. Read Lynne's article which discusses the place of problem solving in the new curriculum and sets the scene.

  5. Open Middle


  6. Using NRICH Tasks to Develop Key Problem-solving Skills

    Pattern spotting. Working backwards. Reasoning logically. Visualising. Conjecturing. The first two in this list are perhaps particularly helpful. As learners progress towards a solution, they may take the mathematics further (stage 3) and two more problem-solving skills become important: Generalising. Proving.

  7. Teaching Mathematics Through Problem Solving

    What is a problem in mathematics? A problem is "any task or activity for which the students have no prescribed or memorized rules or methods, nor is there a perception by students that there is a specific 'correct' solution method" (Hiebert, et. al., 1997). Problem solving in mathematics is one of the most important topics to teach ...

  8. The Problem-solving Classroom

    This article forms part of our Problem-solving Classroom Feature, exploring how to create a space in which mathematical problem solving can flourish. At NRICH, we believe that there are four main aspects to consider: • Highlighting key problem-solving skills. • Examining the teacher's role. • Encouraging a productive disposition.

  9. Developing Problem-solving Skills

    These upper primary tasks could all be tackled using a trial and improvement approach. Tasks for KS2 children which focus on working systematically. The lower primary tasks in this collection could each be solved by working backwards. The tasks in this collection can be used to encourage children to convince others of their reasoning, using ...

  10. Problem Solving

    Problem solving plays an important role in mathematics and should have a prominent role in the mathematics education of K-12 students. However, knowing how to incorporate problem solving meaningfully into the mathematics curriculum is not necessarily obvious to mathematics teachers. (The term "problem solving" refers to mathematical tasks that ...

  11. Co-operative Problem Solving: Pieces of the Puzzle Approach

    Introduction: This type of problem solving activity is well suited to developing and clarifying mathematical ideas that have already been introduced in other lessons. Therefore, in introducing the task to the class, the teacher can make links to previous work. If the mathematical vocabulary contained in the problem is of particular concern, then key terms should be revised.

  12. Problem Solving

    Primary mathematics classroom resources. Quality Assured Collection Category: Mathematics Publisher: Association of Teachers of Mathematics. This selection of 5 resources is a mixture of problem-solving tasks, open-ended tasks, games and puzzles designed to develop students' understanding and application of mathematics.

  13. Challenging Tasks

    Teaching with Challenging Tasks and learning through problem solving. Below are links to some Challenging Tasks and problem solving investigations, predominantly in number and algebra. These challenging tasks can be used as stand-alone problem solving activities, or taught in conjunction with the SURF framework. Task Name: Cakes and Marbles.

  14. Problem Solving

    Problem Solving. This section of the nzmaths website has problem-solving lessons that you can use in your maths programme. The lessons provide coverage of Levels 1 to 6 of The New Zealand Curriculum. The lessons are organised by level and curriculum strand. Accompanying each lesson is a copymaster of the problem in English and in Māori.

  15. 3 Problem-Solving Math Activities

    3 Problem-Solving Math Activities 1) Toothpick Puzzles. Toothpick puzzles (also referred to as matchstick puzzles) provide students a visualization challenge by applying their knowledge of basic geometric shapes and orientations. The only supplies you need are a box of toothpicks, a workspace, and a puzzle to solve. The goal is for students to ...

  16. Exploring Fractions

    Exploring Fractions. At NRICH, our aim is to offer rich tasks which develop deep understanding of mathematical concepts. Of course, by their very nature, rich tasks will also provide opportunities for children to work like a mathematician and so help them develop their problem-solving skills alongside this conceptual understanding. Such tasks ...

  17. Authentic tasks

    Authentic tasks. Authentic tasks are designed to help students see mathematics as worthwhile and important. When students understand the purpose of a given problem in mathematics, they are more likely to persist when challenged. Authentic tasks generally have an 'open middle' which means that students can use different representations and ...

  18. Maths Problem Solving Tasks 1

    A series of different problem solving activities, all set to a 10 minute timer. These tasks are ideal used as a starter, plenary or Maths test. Another free resource. International; Resources; ... Maths Problem Solving Tasks 1. Subject: Mathematics. Age range: 5-7. Resource type: Worksheet/Activity. Tony Watson's Shop. 3.47 2133 reviews. Last ...

  19. Problem-Solving Tasks

    Robert Kaplinsky's tasks are beautifully designed and bring problem solving to life! 4. Stuffed with Pizza - A fractions performance task, New York City Department of Education. 5. Houghton Mifflin Math - Problem Solving application of strategies. 6. Houghton Mifflin Math - Investigations. 7. Parallel and Open Task Problem-Solving Math ...

  20. Engaging & Rich Math Tasks to Reach Every Student

    Try opening it up by removing some of the parameters. This will turn it into a problem with multiple possible solutions. Or consider a task that covers the same math skill, but can be solved using multiple methods or visual tools. This will allow students more room to explore and think through the task.

  21. 100+ KS1 Maths Problem Solving

    Perfect for KS1 students, our maths problem-solving primary resources test a range of skills, from addition and subtraction to remainders and number order! We've included challenging topics like negative numbers, using inverse numbers, and remainders, to ensure these primary resources on problem-solving test your students' maths knowledge.

  22. Frontiers

    Mathematical problem-solving constitutes an important area of mathematics instruction, and there is a need for research on instructional approaches supporting student learning in this area. This study aims to contribute to previous research by studying the effects of an instructional approach of cooperative learning on students' mathematical problem-solving in heterogeneous classrooms in ...

  23. 100+ Math Project Ideas for Every Enthusiast

    Promoting Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: When you tackle a math project, you're not just memorizing formulas; you're actively solving problems. This fosters critical thinking skills and the ability to approach challenges with confidence. ... Design a mobile app or computer program for a specific task. Analyze the algorithms behind ...

  24. Google can now solve trickier math problems for you with these new

    Google added new updates to Search and Lens that make it easier for users to get assistance when solving math problems. All users have to do now is type the equation or integral into the Search ...

  25. The math problem that took nearly a century to solve

    Math students learn about Ramsey problems early on, so r(4,t) has been on Verstraete's radar for most of his professional career. In fact, he first saw the problem in print in Erdös on Graphs ...

  26. [2310.20689] Learning From Mistakes Makes LLM Better Reasoner

    Large language models (LLMs) recently exhibited remarkable reasoning capabilities on solving math problems. To further improve this capability, this work proposes Learning from Mistakes (LeMa), akin to human learning processes. Consider a human student who failed to solve a math problem, he will learn from what mistake he has made and how to correct it. Mimicking this error-driven learning ...

  27. Maths problem solved after stumping the world for nearly a century

    Maths problem solved after stumping the world for nearly a century By Bronwyn Thompson. ... For example, in solving r(5,5), if you knew the answer was somewhere between 40 and 50, ...

  28. Maths Problem Solving Tasks 3

    Maths Problem Solving Tasks 3. Subject: Mathematics. Age range: 11-14. Resource type: Worksheet/Activity. A series of different problem solving activities, all set to a 10 minute timer. These tasks are ideal used as a starter, plenary or Maths test. Report this resource to let us know if it violates our terms and conditions.