Third grade students' challenges and strategies to solving mathematical word problems

Elizabeth Bernadette, University of Texas at El Paso


This project explores the difficulties and challenges that third grade students face solving mathematical word problems. Three students were asked to be participants and share their knowledge on this topic as well as their work. After extensive interviews it was concluded that the challenges of mathematical word problems include but are not limited to the level of reading comprehension, conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts, and the belief that math is a compilation of computations and unexplainable procedures. The participants provided insight as to what strategies are helpful to students. These strategies include group discussion on problem solving strategies, self-assessment, incorporating games into math lessons, and learning that math makes sense. Graphic representations were found to assist the students in all three cases. When using graphic representation, each student was able to show better understanding of the word problem. This project helps to understand what challenges the students face and how teachers can improve instruction in a way that benefits each learner.

Subject Area

Science education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Bernadette, Elizabeth, "Third grade students' challenges and strategies to solving mathematical word problems" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1473854.