Mathematical problem-solving processes of male and female secondary students in government and private schools on non-routine tasks
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This paper reports a small study of secondary school students problem-solving practices in Uganda. A sample of 225 students (109 male and 116 female), in eight government and private secondary schools were used. Students problem-solving processes and strategies were assessed using three non-routine tasks. Solutions of students from government and private schools and differences by gender were categorised and rated as exceptional, proficient, satisfactory, limited, poor and blank. The solutions mean scores were also examined using t-tests of independent samples. The results of the t-tests for independent samples indicated no statisti- cally significant differences in students scores by gender. The results of the t-tests for independent samples indicated a statistically significant difference in students scores by school type. The results suggest that teachers in both government and private schools need to realise that when concepts and skills they teach make sense to students they learn faster, they remember better, and they are better able to use concepts and skills in subsequent problem-solving situations. This study needs replicating at different school levels and contexts using qualitative data collection techniques. Mathematics educators could benefit from knowledge of students problem-solving practices as students should be involved in solving problems rather than mastering skills and not applying them since "the ability to solve problems is at the heart of mathematics" (Cockcroft, 1982, p. 73).
- SIMC 2013