Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring Visualisation as a Strategy for Improving Year 4 & 5 Student Achievement on Mathematics Word Problems

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posted on 2021-11-15, 00:31 authored by Teahen, Raymond John

Solving mathematics word problems is more difficult for many students than solving comparable number only problems. Given the wide use of word problems in class teaching and in assessments there is potential for students not to achieve to their full ability. This study aimed to investigate if students’ comprehension of mathematics word problems, their accuracy in choosing the correct operation, and the number of word problems solved correctly could be increased through using drawings and mental visualisation. This mixed method intervention study involved 10 Year 4 and 5 students in an inner city New Zealand school. Two separate interventions were used with different groups of five students identified as being at risk of low achievement in mathematics. Each group was involved in three intervention sessions to help with solving mathematics word problems. The first included instruction in creating drawings, and the second using mental visualisation. The study data included pre- and post-tests, verbal student reflections, and student drawings. Results showed that both groups made improvements during their interventions in the number of problems solved, the number of operations chosen correctly, and in their ability to identify and write the equation described in the word problems. Both groups also increased their achievement in number only problems. There were no significant differences between the results gained by students in the different interventions. The findings suggest that visualising word problems is an effective strategy for solving mathematics word problems and is an important step as a part of a mathematics word problem solving process. Implications for teachers include that creating representations is important for students’ understanding in mathematics and crucially, that creating both internal representations (visualisations) and external representations (drawings) can and needs to be taught for maximising achievement.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Education

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Averill, Robin