chapter  2
21 Pages


Story problems are the most common kind of problem encountered by students in formal education. Although not the most innovative or the most authentic, they are clearly the most commonly solved kind of problem in schools and universities as well as the most extensively researched. Students begin solving story problems in early elementary school and often encounter them through graduate school. From simple combined problems in beginning mathematics (e.g., Tom has three apples. Mary gave Tom three more apples. How many apples does Tom have in the end? [Riley, Greeno, & Heller, 1983]) to complex problems in thermodynamics, story problems are the most common kind of problem in formal education. Many innovations in mathematics and science education have attempted to replace story problems with more complex and authentic problems. Notwithstanding those innovations, story problems remain the most ubiquitous kind of problem solved in schools and universities.