February 26, 2008, pages 1-19.
Marshall (1995) provided a classification scheme for arithmetic word problems. The most frequent types of word problems are the change, group, compare, restate, and vary situations. Change situations tell a story in which there is a change in a measurable quantity of a particular thing. Group word problems ask the solver to use combine members of the same classification before performing a mathematical calculation upon these. Compare situations require a student to complete mathematical calculations upon two or more things and to contrast their quantities for a conclusion. Restate word problems include both a relational statement between two or more things and a numerical value for expressing the relational statement in measurable terms. Vary situations are those where the relationship between two things is generalizable across other values of these things.
The basic premise of this article is that educators in the middle and upper elementary grades can use a modified version of the sentence completion task (fill-in-the blanks) to familiarize students with the various structures of word problems. By embedding the sentences comprising a word problem among unrelated sentences, teachers can challenge their students to a) find the sentences pertaining to the word problem; b) order these related sentences into a logical order with or without the aid of a graphic organizer; and c) solve the problem. With frequent exposure to this activity, students may learn the various word problem structures.
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