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An Analysis of Problem-Posing Tasks in Chinese and US Elementary Mathematics Textbooks

  • Jinfa CaiEmail author
  • Chunlian Jiang
Article

Abstract

This paper reports on 2 studies that examine how mathematical problem posing is integrated in Chinese and US elementary mathematics textbooks. Study 1 involved a historical analysis of the problem-posing (PP) tasks in 3 editions of the most widely used elementary mathematics textbook series published by People’s Education Press in China over 3 decades. Study 2 compared the PP tasks in Chinese and US elementary mathematics textbooks. This allows for the examination of PP tasks from an international comparative perspective, which provides one point of view about the kinds of learning opportunities that are available to students in China and the USA. We found evidence that the inclusion of PP tasks in the Chinese textbook series reflected, to some degree, changes in the curricular frameworks in China. However, the distribution of PP tasks across grade levels and content areas, as well as the variety of types of PP tasks included, suggest a need for greater intentionality in the design and placement of PP tasks in both the Chinese and US textbook series. Findings from the 2 studies reported in this paper not only contribute to our understanding about the inclusion of PP tasks in curriculum both historically and internationally, but also suggest a great need to systematically integrate PP activities into curriculum and instruction. The fact that both Chinese and US curriculum standards have heavily emphasized PP in school mathematics, despite there being only a small proportion of PP activities in both Chinese and US elementary mathematics curricula, suggests the existence of challenges that are delaying the implementation of reform ideas such as problem posing in school mathematics.

Keywords

Mathematics curriculum Mathematics education reform Problem posing Textbook analysis China United States 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful for the support of our research from the USA National Science Foundation (NSF, DRL-1008536), the University of Macau (UM), and the Curriculum and Teaching Materials Research Institute (CTMRI) (KC2016-030). Any opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NSF , UM, and CTMRI. We also acknowledge the earlier support of this work by Dianshun Hu, Stephen Hwang, and Bikai Nie.

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.University of MacauMacauChina

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