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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Arithmetic word problem solving is considered as a testing ground of mathematical achievement, but remains the area of mathematics in which students experience the greatest difficulties. In this chapter, we review recent theoretical and empirical work that could shed light on these difficulties. We first describe the most frequently used classifications of word problems and assess their psychological relevance. Then, we present the main hypotheses concerning the nature of the representations involved in word problems. Some theories assume that problem solving relies on the instantiation of schemas abstracted from recurrently encountered problems of the same relational structure, whereas other theories propose that ad hoc transient mental representations are constructed for each problem encountered. A third part is devoted to the impact of individual differences in calculation, reading comprehension, and more general factors, such as working memory capacity. Finally, we address the issue of enhancing performance in word problem solving.

Keywords: word problems, verbal problems, story problems, mental models, arithmetic

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