BOX9.2 Problem Solving and Attitudes

Students in classrooms in nine states received opportunities to solve four Jasper adventures distributed throughout the year. The average total time spent solving Jasper adventures ranged from 3 to 4 weeks. The students were compared with non-Jasper comparison classes on standardized test scores of mathematics, problems requiring complex problem solving, and attitudes toward mathematics and complex challenges. With no losses in standardized test scores, both boys and girls in the Jasper classrooms showed better complex problem solving and had more positive attitudes toward mathematics and complex challenges (see Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992; Pellegrino et al., 1991).

The graphs show scores for Jasper and comparison students on questions that asked them to (a) identify the key data and steps needed to solve complex problems, (b) evaluate possible solutions to these problems, and (c) indicate their self-confidence with respect to mathematics, their belief in the utility of mathematics, their current interest in mathematics, and their feelings about complex math challenges. Figure 9.1 shows positive attitude changes from the beginning to the end of the school year for students in the interactive video challenge series, with negative changes falling below the midline of the graph, as shown for most of the students in the comparison groups. Figures 9.2 and 9.3 indicate positive changes for Jasper-video students’ planning skills growth and comprehension on the problem-solving challenges. Clearly, the interactive video materials had positive effects on children’s problem solving and comprehension.

FIGURE 9.1 Changes in attitude.

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