Mathematical Problem Solving pp 91-109 | Cite as

# The Spreadsheet Affordances in Solving Complex Word Problems

## Abstract

This chapter focuses on the affordances of the spreadsheet in solving a complex word problem in light of the multiple conceptual models that students produce in their approaches to the solution with the digital medium. The empirical study carried out examines, through a qualitative analysis, a set of resolutions produced by a class of 8th grade students to a word problem involving multiple variables and conditions. The aim is to appreciate how the way in which the students take advantage of the spreadsheet can be related to their approaches to a problem that is algebraically translated into a system of simultaneous equations. We found that the spreadsheet offered students diverse ways of formulating relational conditions in solving a problem for which they had not yet learned the formal algebraic method. The affordances of the spreadsheet were fundamental for the success of the students in solving the problem. It provided them a representational medium for capturing the structure of the situation and it suggested ways of conceptually modelling the several conditions presented. In particular, the spreadsheet opened up opportunities for assigning meaning to and expressing the multiple conditions (equations and inequalities) that structure the problem.

## Keywords

Problem solving Spreadsheet Affordances Conceptual models Algebraic thinking## References

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