טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentOvadya Tikva
SubjectFostering Problem-Solving Skills in Mathematically
"Weak" Female High School Students
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Boris Koichu
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

This research study examines possibilities for developing independent problem-solving skills in mathematics among female students in the eleventh and twelfth grades who are considered to be weak students. The study focuses on heuristic strategies for "building connections of similarity among problems." The study was conducted in high school classes where the official curriculum of the Ministry of Education was taught and assessed by the three-point Bagrut (matriculation) examination.  The research participants included female students from two classes, eleventh grade (n=15) and twelfth grade (n=15). The yearlong intervention program was based on teaching principles deriving from the following fields: teaching mathematics to weak students, teaching toward the development of heuristic literacy, teaching that focuses on processes to reduce memory load, and culture and discourse in the mathematics classroom. The intervention (teaching) principles that served as mathematical norms in the classroom included learning problem-solving strategies by means of sample pages of solved problems, constructing similarity relations among problems, explicit teaching of heuristic problem-solving strategies and classroom discussions to generalize problem-solving notions.

 
    The research examined four questions:
  1. How can strategies for "identifying similarity relations among problems" be taught to female students in the eleventh and twelfth grades who are considered to be weak students?
  2. What changes took place over the course of the intervention year in the following classroom components: lesson planning and execution, lesson content, classroom management, classroom culture and teacher-student relations? 
  3. What types of relations between problems did the students identify at the beginning, middle and end of the intervention period?
  4. How did the students' independent skills in solving math problems develop over the course of the intervention period?

The practical contribution of this study lies in the formulation of principles for intervention that can serve as means of teaching in classes of weak students and in the formulation of two sets of stages, one describing the development of heuristic literacy for solving classroom problems and the other referring to the development of self-efficacy in solving problems. The theoretical contribution lies in the definition of models for three systems: a system of considerations in formulating relations, a system for choosing problems to be solved and a system for describing self-development in problem solving. The interview tool developed in this research has the potential to identify problem-solving processes and can be implemented for other age groups and other study programs in mathematics and science.