Teaching Math Problem Solving Using a Web-based Tutoring System, Learning Games, and Students' Writing

  • Robert W Maloy
  • Sharon A Edwards
  • Gordon Anderson
Keywords: educational technology, math education, computers


This article describes the use of a web-based mathematics tutoring system called 4MALITY with 125 fourth graders and their teachers in three rural Massachusetts school districts during the 2007-2008 school year. When the project began, 4MALITY was envisioned as a stand-alone system that would provide test-taking and tutorial support to students as they prepared for a statewide math achievement exam. What evolved, however, was an approach to teaching math problem solving based on a combination of web-based tutoring, computer and non-computer learning games, and students creative writing of math problems. These interventions proved successful. We found a mean gain of 25.51% in test scores from pre-test to post-test among all student participants, while 36 student participants registered gains of 40% or more from pre-test to post-test. The difference between pretest and post-test score distributions was found to be statistically highly significant (p<.01). From this study, we suggest that structured practice and creative exploration of math problem solving can be achieved through a blend of online and in-person learning activities.