chapter  4
Uncontrollability in the classroom: The intellectual helplessness perspective
ByKlara Rydzewska, Marzena Rusanowska, Izabela Krejtz, Grzegorz Sedek
Pages 19

The fact that a lot of times students try to solve math tasks without understanding the problem is often recognized by educational researchers. The classical example (cited by Schoenefeld, 1988) comes from the third National Assessment of Educational Progress, which used a random national sample of 45,000 13-year-old students. Among many other tasks, students were given the following problem: “An army bus holds 36 soldiers. If 1128 soldiers are being bussed to their training site, how many buses are needed?” Only 23% gave the correct answer “32”; however, 29% of the students wrote that the number of buses needed is “31 remainder 12.” Obviously, “31 reminder 12” is the result of dividing 1128 by 36, but such a precise answer is completely absurd in the real-world situation. In the educational literature such examples of absurd or mindless answers to task problems in different educational subjects are typically seen as the lack of a skill in transforming abstract knowledge into real-world situations. However, in this chapter we will try to demonstrate that they might be better conceptualized as the symptoms of intellectual helplessness among students.