Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 395–415 | Cite as

What makes a problem mathematically interesting? Inviting prospective teachers to pose better problems

  • Sandra Crespo
  • Nathalie Sinclair


School students of all ages, including those who subsequently become teachers, have limited experience posing their own mathematical problems. Yet problem posing, both as an act of mathematical inquiry and of mathematics teaching, is part of the mathematics education reform vision that seeks to promote mathematics as an worthy intellectual activity. In this study, the authors explored the problem-posing behavior of elementary prospective teachers, which entailed analyzing the kinds of problems they posed as a result of two interventions. The interventions were designed to probe the effects of (a) exploration of a mathematical situation as a precursor to mathematical problem posing, and (b) development of aesthetic criteria to judge the mathematical quality of the problems posed. Results show that both interventions led to improved problem posing and mathematically richer understandings of what makes a problem ‘good.’


Problem posing Mathematical aesthetic Prospective teachers Learning to pose problems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

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