Unlocking mathematics’ power: interpreting content and context within word problems

Abdul Halim Abdullah, Nurain Nadhirah Mohamad, Sitti Fithriani Saleh, Mutmainnah Mutmainnah


Mathematics is a fundamental subject with wide-reaching importance in education, providing students with the tools to apply mathematical principles in diverse contexts. This study examines the abilities of 60 pre-service mathematics teachers (PSTs) in identifying content and context within mathematical word problems. Utilizing a case study approach, the study employed the mathematics word problems test and the content and context questionnaire. The findings reveal that PSTs generally struggle with error detection and content comprehension in mathematical word problems, as demonstrated by their inability to recognize inaccuracies in two of three test questions. The failure of PSTs to identify errors in mathematical word problems often stems from their tendency to rely solely on the solutions they obtain, without first understanding the entire question presented. In essence, they may focus on finding a solution rather than critically evaluating the problem, which can lead to the oversight of errors or inaccuracies within the problem statement itself. This study emphasizes the need for PSTs to grasp mathematical concepts and contextualize them in everyday life scenarios. Challenges were observed in linking computational results to real-world contexts. Thus, the study calls for future research in pre-service teacher education to explore strategies for enhancing critical thinking, error detection, and the integration of practical context in mathematical problem-solving. Furthermore, the study suggests that assessing the ability of PSTs to formulate problem-solving questions evaluates their capacity to answer questions and their ability to construct questions that can enhance students’ cognitive abilities.


Content; Context; Mathematics word problem; Pre-service mathematics teachers; Problem-solving; Real-world application

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DOI: http://doi.org/10.11591/ijere.v13i4.28658


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International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE)
p-ISSN: 2252-8822, e-ISSN: 2620-5440
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