Problem Solving in Mathematics Instruction and Teacher Professional Development pp 187-202 | Cite as

# Collaborative Learning to Improve Problem-Solving Skills: A Relation Affecting Through Attitude Toward Mathematics

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## Abstract

Research on the effectiveness of collaborative learning approaches usually concentrates on individual performance as the primary indicator for a successful learning outcome. However, inconsistent success has been demonstrated for students’ outcomes after participating in a collaborative learning. In order to seek the reasons for this inconsistency, it is necessary to move beyond simple descriptions of the positive or negative impact of collaborative learning on students’ outcomes. This study aims to investigate whether students’ attitudes toward mathematics can affect their learning to solve non-routine mathematical problems through a collaborative learning approach. A group of 12 elementary teachers who participated in a professional development program for activating collaborative problem solving in mathematics classrooms voluntarily joined this study. The data were obtained from their 214 students (grades 3–8) at the beginning and the end of the school year. Results indicated that students with very positive or moderately positive levels of attitude performed better in comparison with students having negative attitudes toward mathematics, in all four stages of Polya’s problem-solving model, which includes understanding the problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan, and looking back. Furthermore, students with different degrees of positive and negative attitudes toward mathematics showed meaningful differences in choosing the strategies and being aware of evaluating their solutions. The influence of attitude on learning is then a factor to be taken into account by educators and policymakers for considering appropriate strategies in order to improve the effectiveness of collaborative learning.

## Keywords

Attitude toward mathematics Collaborative learning Problem-solving skills## Notes

### Acknowledgment

Funding from FONDEF ID14I20338 and PIA-CONICYT Basal Funds for Centers of Excellence Project FB0003 is gratefully acknowledged. FS is grateful to the support of CONICYT/Fondecyt Postdoctoral Project 3170673.

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