Original Research

Writing and mathematical problem solving in Grade 3

Belinda Petersen, Sharon McAuliffe, Cornelis Vermeulen
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 7, No 1 | a483 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v7i1.483 | © 2017 Belinda Petersen, Sharon McAuliffe, Cornelis Vermeulen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2016 | Published: 30 June 2017

About the author(s)

Belinda Petersen, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
Sharon McAuliffe, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
Cornelis Vermeulen, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa


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Abstract

This article looks at writing tasks as a methodology to support learners’ mathematical problemsolving strategies in the South African Foundation Phase context. It is a qualitative case study and explores the relation between the use of writing in mathematics and development of learners’ problem-solving strategies and conceptual understanding. The research was conducted in a suburban Foundation Phase school in Cape Town with a class of Grade 3 learners involved in a writing and mathematics intervention. Writing tasks were modelled to learners and implemented by them while they were engaged in mathematical problem solving. Data were gathered from a sample of eight learners of different abilities and included written work, interviews, field notes and audio recordings of ability group discussions. The results revealed an improvement in the strategies and explanations learners used when solving mathematical problems compared to before the writing tasks were implemented. Learners were able to reflect critically on their thinking through their written strategies and explanations. The writing tasks appeared to support learners in providing opportunities to construct and apply mathematical knowledge and skills in their development of problem-solving strategies.

Keywords

problem-solving; writing; conceptual development; strategies

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