The effects of simplified schema-based instruction on elementary students' mathematical word problem solving performance

Houbin Lewis Fang


This study is an evidence-based mathematical intervention in word problem solving for elementary students. One of the purposes of teaching mathematics is to help students apply mathematics to real life situations. As we know, teaching word problem solving is a very suitable format for this purpose. Schema-based instruction (SBI) is one of the most supported methods for teaching word problem solving. In the current literature, there are four steps in SBI: identifying the problem type, applying corresponding method, determining an operation, and solving the problem. The problem with the current SBI is that there are no agreed-upon definitions for word problem types. As a result, researchers categorize word problems into different categories. Further, it is a complicated cognitive process for elementary students to learn and identify the problem types. Therefore, in this study, the researchers simplified SBI and referred it to SSBI. The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of this new method with second grade students. Participants, using SSBI method, did not need to identify categories. Results demonstrated that all four participants' word problem solving skills were significantly improved. The results also evidenced that students not only mastered SSBI, but also maintained the skills.