Irrelevant information in math problems need not be inhibited: Students might just need to spot them

Jeremy NG, Kerry LEE, Kiat Hui KHNG

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined whether individual differences in inhibitory abilities were related to word problem-solving performance. A sample of 10–11 year-old students (N = 134) were assessed on two types of inhibition: prepotent response inhibition and resistance to proactive interference. Word problems administered contained varying amounts of either numerical or literal irrelevant information. Working memory capacity and the students' ability to identify irrelevant information were also assessed. Numerical but not literal irrelevant information resulted in poorer problem-solving accuracy. Relevancy identification was associated with the observed drop in accuracy when numerical irrelevant information was added to word problems. Furthermore, neither inhibitory skills nor working memory explained significance variance in accuracy drop. We discussed these findings in relation to other research that considered inhibitory abilities and word problem-solving. We also discussed students' problem-solving errors in terms of strategy use and, in the larger socio-mathematical context. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume60
Early online dateSep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Aptitude
Students
Short-Term Memory
ability
student
Individuality
interference
Research
performance
Inhibition (Psychology)

Citation

Ng, J., Lee, K., & Khng, K. H. (2017). Irrelevant information in math problems need not be inhibited: Students might just need to spot them. Learning and Individual Differences, 60, 46-55. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2017.09.008

Keywords

  • Inhibition
  • Interference
  • Problem-solving
  • Word problems
  • Mathematics