The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #12/2008

The Modeling Perspective in the teaching and learning of mathematical Problem Solving at the elementary and secondary school level

Nicholas Mousoulides
The University of Cyprus

Bharath Sriraman
The University of Montana

Constantinos Christou
The University of Cyprus


The purpose of this study was to examine in depth the modeling processes used by students in working with modeling activities and to examine how studentsí modeling abilities are changed over time. Two student populations, one experimental and one control group, were involved in the study. To examine modeling processes in studentsí work, experimental group students participated in an intervention program consisting of a sequence of six modeling activities. To examine studentsí modeling abilities, experimental and control group students completed a modeling abilities test three times. Results showed that studentsí models improved as students worked through the sequence of the modeling activities. Results also revealed that a number of factors, such as studentsí grade, studentsí experiences with modeling activities, and studentsí modeling abilities influence the modeling processes students used in their work. Results related to studentsí modeling abilities showed that participation in the intervention program had a significant impact on the studentsí modeling abilities. Finally, the study proposes a three- layer theoretical model for examining studentsí modeling behavior, which may have some implications on the teaching and learning of mathematical problem solving.

Keywords: Cyprus; 6th and 8th grade achievement differences; local developmental trajectories; intervention program; modeling abilities; modeling activities; mathematical modeling

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Download Technical Report: pdf (219 KB)

Pre-print of paper to appear in Mathematical Thinking & Learning: An International Journal