Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 211–230 | Cite as

Classroom Practices for Context of Mathematics Word Problems

  • Olive Chapman


How do teachers conceptualize and deal with context of mathematics word problems in their teaching? This question is discussed based on a study of 14 experienced teachers at the elementary, junior high and senior high school levels. Bruner’s notions of paradigmatic and narrative modes of knowing formed the basis of analysis of data from sources that include interviews and classroom observations. The findings highlight the teachers’ conceptions of problem context and teaching approaches for each of these modes of knowing. All of the teachers used the paradigmatic mode in their teaching but with different depth and most engaged in some form of the narrative mode to create a classroom environment that was motivational for students to learn word problems. The paper also highlights characteristics of these two modes as they relate directly to word problems and discusses implications for instruction, learning and teacher development.

Key Words

instructional approaches mathematics teachers’ conceptions narrative knowing paradigmatic knowing social context word problems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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