Publication details [#11894]

Yee, Sean P. and Jonathan D. Bostic. 2014. Developing a contextualization of students’ mathematical problem solving. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior 36 (12) : 1–19. 19 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


The aim of this paper is to analyse how middle and high school students conceptualise their experiences of solving a mathematical problem in terms of metaphorical representations. The focus is therefore not on the problem itself, but on the context that it evokes. Students tend to view a mathematical problem as a container, where given/known information is to be found. Solutions, on the other hand, are outside the box, so that solving a problem is understood as moving/travelling from the inside to the outside of the container. This is indicated by the use of expressions such as “pull out”, “get out”, “come out” etc., also conveying the idea that something trapped inside has to be freed. The various scenarios evoked by the students are examined using both representation and linguistic analysis.