Model method drawing acts as a double-edged sword for solving inconsistent word problems

Björn B. de Koning*, Anton J.H. Boonen, Joran Jongerling, Floryt van Wesel, Menno van der Schoot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing bar diagrams has been shown to improve performance on mathematical word problems wherein the relational keyword is consistent with the required arithmetic operation. This study extends this by testing the effectiveness of bar diagram drawing for word problems with an inconsistent keyword-arithmetic operation mapping. Seventy-five fifth graders solved consistent and inconsistent word problems while encouraged to draw bar diagrams. For each word problem, we assessed problem type (consistent/inconsistent), performance (correct/incorrect), and bar diagrams (accurate/inaccurate/no drawing). Overall, bar diagram drawing was associated with increased performance on both consistent and inconsistent word problems, but the strongest benefits of drawing were found for inconsistent word problems. For inconsistent word problems, bar diagram accuracy was more clearly related to performance (accurate bar diagrams related to correct answers, but inaccurate ones to incorrect answers) than for consistent word problems. We conclude that bar diagram drawing provides an effective graphical support for solving inconsistent word problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number1
Early online date23 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).

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