Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

David R. Davies

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


Everyone uses problem-solving on a daily basis: paying bills, managing time, and making decisions. It is important to be able to solve problems effectively, especially in mathematics. In 2007, the Mississippi Department of Education produced a set of mathematical objectives for third - through fifth - grade students. These objectives use the phrase problem-solving, without defining its use in the mathematics classroom. To discover what mathematics teachers were actually executing in the classroom, this study used a valid online survey administrated through Qualtrics. The survey focused on determining third - through fifth - grade teachers’ definition of a problem, their beliefs about problem-solving, and the problem-solving strategies they used while instructing students. Additionally, teachers’ thoughts and opinions about mathematical problem-solving were examined by asking a variety of open-ended questions. The participants were third - through fifth - grade teachers in three school districts in the area of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Results indicated there are some differences among teachers concerning what problem-solving actually is and what problem-solving skills are necessary for students to have. Further, there were two distinct opinions on how many mathematical strategies a competent student should use for successful problem-solving. Interestingly, teachers could not distinguish a problem as abstract; instead, they viewed a problem as concrete. The results of this study demonstrated that problem-solving should certainly be further examined in schools across Mississippi and further implemented into the classroom.