Lessons Learned About Boys’ and Girls’ Mathematical Problem Solving: The Solution Processes, Performance, Linguistic Explanations, Self-Efficacy, and Self-Assessment of Fifth-Grade Students of Varying Reading and Mathematics Abilities
Degree Granting Department
Early Childhood Education and Literacy Studies
James R. King, Ed. D.
Denisse R. Thompson, Ph.D.
Jeffrey D. Kromrey, Ph. D.
Susan Homan, Ph. D.
Gladis Kersaint, Ph. D.
Mathematics, Problem solving, Gender, Reading ability, Mathematics ability, Self-efficacy, Self-assessment, Self-regulation
The purpose of this non-experimental, causal-comparative study was to examine how gender, reading ability, and mathematics ability differentially moderated students’ mathematical problem-solving processes, linguistic explanations of those solution processes, achievement on a mathematical problem-solving test, self-efficacy on a self-reported rating scale, and selfassessment on a self-reported rating scale. The investigation addressed five research questions. First, to what extent are students’ mathematical problemsolving processes related to gender? Second, to what extent is children’s performance in mathematical problem solving related to gender, reading ability, and mathematics ability? Third, to what extent is the quality of students’ linguistic explanations of their problem-solving processes related to gender, reading ability and mathematics ability? Fourth, to what extent is the relationship between students’ feelings of self-efficacy when commencing work on a mathematical problem and their actual performance related to gender, reading ability and mathematics ability? Finally, to what extent is students’ ability to assess their own performance on mathematical problem-solving tasks related to gender, reading ability, and mathematics ability?
After being briefed in the use of the self-efficacy and self-assessment reporting scales, the students from 16 fifth-grade classrooms were tested with a 12-item mathematical problem-solving test. The final sample consisted of 237 students, 129 boys and 108 girls. All student responses were scored for performance and linguistic explanation using holistic rubrics, and were coded according to the solution process employed. The results indicate that gender does not play a significant role in students’ choice of problem-solving processes. As expected, mathematics ability was significantly related to performance as was reading ability. Gender was not found to be a significant predictor of performance. Reading ability and mathematics ability were both strongly related to the quality of students’ linguistic explanations of their problem-solving processes, but gender was not. Boys consistently exhibited higher levels of selfefficacy, but girls were more accurate in their self-efficacy feelings. Reading ability was also found to be a significant predictor of the accuracy of students’ self-efficacy feelings, but mathematics ability was not. Reading ability was found to be the strongest predictor of the accuracy of students’ self-assessment, with gender also showing a significant relationship.
Scholar Commons Citation
Hunsader, Patricia D., "Lessons Learned About Boys’ and Girls’ Mathematical Problem Solving: The Solution Processes, Performance, Linguistic Explanations, Self-Efficacy, and Self-Assessment of Fifth-Grade Students of Varying Reading and Mathematics Abilities" (2005). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.