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Action Research Proposal: Mathematics Problem-Solving Skill And Reading Comprehension

Updated on April 30, 2012

Mathematics problem-solving and reading comprehension go hand-in-hand


It cannot be denied that problem solving is an important part of Mathematics education. Mathematics, in general, is an important subject because of its practical role to a person and the society as a whole. However, before a student can successfully solve a problem, he has to possess good reading comprehension, analytic and computational skills.


I. Situation

Problem solving in Mathematics and reading comprehension go hand in hand. Solving Math problems entails or requires the students to do or apply two skills at the same time- reading and computing. It is a two-edged sword which the student should conquer, so to speak.

As a teacher of Mathematics in Grade 6 for five years in the public school, I have encountered many pupils who are poor both in comprehending and analyzing Mathematics word problems. Specifically in SY 2010-2011 Grade 6 class, only 11 out of 60 pupils can successfully solve problems in Math without or with just little help from the teacher. The rest need to be guided to understand the problem. Approximately 82% find it hard to picture the situation indicated by the problem they are trying to solve. The slow ones would even ask the meaning of a certain word in the problem. When they have understood it, it is only then that they fully grasp the event/situation pictured in the problem. However, there are still some who cannot understand it, probably because they can’t connect or relate the ideas explained in the problem. When it is time to analyze or break down the problem, only the 11 pupils mentioned earlier can actively participate.

During group activities, the leaders would most often report that their members have to be monitored closely so that they would be able to correctly analyze the problem. Based on their report, roughly 3 out of 7 members actively contribute in their output.

That is why, during formative tests, only11 can get a perfect score. Majority of the class get 0-3 correct answers out of 5 given problems. Since the beginning of the school year, I have noticed that roughly 85%of the class has poor reading comprehension skills. The Grade 5 teacher warned me beforehand that this class is the slowest batch he has handled; particularly in reading comprehension. Many of the pupils in the class have poor vocabulary skills. True enough, I experience the same thing now. It seems that the present batch of pupils is worse than the previous one. Translating this into analyzing the problems in Mathematics, there is a grim prospect that they would find it hard to understand Math problems and thus affect their performance in the said area,notwithstanding their numerical skills. In straight computations like plain addition, multiplication, subtraction and division, they can solve them successfully with very little help. But when these are written in the verbal context-not in the numerical context- they are already at a loss, so to speak. Obviously, the bane of these pupils is the understanding of the contents of the math problems correctly and connecting the ideas expressed in it to fully grasp and find a way to successfully solve the problem.


II. The Problem

The problem is the failure of the Grade VI pupils of Zapote Elementary School, SY 2011-2012, to correctly analyze word problems in Mathematics due to poor reading comprehension abilities.

Possible Causes:

1. Limited vocabulary words in Mathematics

2. Lack of technique in solving word problems


III. Generation of Alternative Solution

This action research offers alternative solution to the following:

1. Limited Mathematics vocabulary

a. Provide unlocking of difficulties through vocabulary development before the beginning of the Math class

b. Establish a tutor-tutee relationship wherein a good pupil tutors or teaches a slow classmate assigned to him in areas of reading comprehension and problem-solving

c. Provide interesting and challenging vocabulary activities involving Mathematics vocabulary such as in contests and games

2. Lack of technique in solving word problems

a. Organize the given information found in the problem

b. Use object representation and manipulatives to picture clearly the given Math problem

c. Substitute large numbers by simpler numbers or restate the problem in much simpler terms through improved reading comprehension

d. Make a number sentence out of the word problem

e. Use the “trial and error” method or the “guess and check”


IV. Plan of Action

a. Objectives

1. Improve the pupils’ limited vocabulary wordsin Mathematics and enhance reading comprehension ability of the students

2. Develop the pupils’ techniques in solving word problems

b. Time Frame

This study will be conducted for one quarter, from July to September of SY 2011-2012

c. Target Subjects

The target subjects for this study are the Grade VI pupils of Zapote Elementary School during the academic year 2011-2012.

d. Activities to be Undertaken

Target Date
Persons Involved
Expected Results
July 12, 2011
School Head
A. Inform the school head about the action research to be undertaken
Granted permission to conduct the research
July 15, 2011
Grade VI pupils Co-teachers
B. Orientation of the pupils and co-teachers regarding the action research
100% of the pupils and co-teachers will be aware of the on-going research
C. Improve the pupils'limited vocabulary words in Mathematics
July 16, 2011
Grade VI pupils
1. Survey the Mathematics vocabulary skill of the pupils.
100% of the pupils will be surveyed
July 18 to September 9, 2011
Grade VI pupils
2. Provide unlocking of difficulties through vocabulary development before the beginning of the Math class.
100% of the class will develop and enhance their Math vocabulary skill
July 21, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
3. Establish a tutor-tutee relationship in reading comprehension and problem-solving wherein a good pupil tutors a slow classmate assigned to him
100% of the slow pupils will learn from their tutor-classmates
July 18, 2011 until the end of the school year
Grade VI pupils , Teacher
4. Provide interesting and challenging vocabulary activities involving Math vocabulary such as in contestsand game.
100% of the pupils will participate more actively in discussions and activities
D. Develop the pupils' techniques in solving word problems
July 25 to August 5, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
1. Draw a graph, chart, graphic organizer or list to help the students organize their information found in the word problem.
100% of the pupils will be able to organize the given data and connect the ideas expressed in the problem
August 8-19, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
2. Ask the students to make representation of objects so they will be able to visualize the problem clearly. They can use ruler, play money, realia, blocks, dice, etc.
100% of the pupils can manipulate and be aided by these materials in solving word problems
August 22 to September 2, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
3. Substitute large numbers by simpler numbers and use them instead of what are given in the problem, Problems can also be restated in much simpler terms.
100% of the pupils will be able to simplify the problem and substitute simpler numbers for the given numbers
September 5-16, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
4. From the given problem, make a number sentence by substituting the English sentences into Mathematics sentences. Another technique is to translate the problem into a dialect most understood by the students.
100% of the pupils will be able to master writing the number sentence
September 19-23, 2011
Grade VI pupils, Teacher
5. Solve by "trial and error" or "guess and check" by using the answers provided in multiple choice problems.
100% of the pupils will be able to apply the guess and check technique

V. Evaluation Criteria

The result of this research shall be reported after 100% of the Grade VI pupils have improved their Mathematics problem-solving skills.


VI.Research Design

This action research is purely descriptive in nature which uses pre-test/post-test results and survey results to address the pupils’ problem.

Data To Be Collected
Statistical Treatment
1. Conduct a pre-survey of the previous Math vocabulary and reading comprehension of students
Pre-survey result
2. Administer the pre-test
Result of the pre-test
3. Conduct daily test on Math vocabulary
Result of the daily test
4. Conduct weekly test on problem-solving
Weekly test result
5. Conduct a post-survey of the Mathematics vocabulary of the pupils
Post-survey result
6. Administer the post-test
Result of the post-test


Submit a Comment

  • NayNay2124 profile image

    NayNay2124 5 years ago

    Lack of reading comprehension skills is a problem in the schools across the country. Maybe if schools would begin more aggressive reading programs in the earlier grades, this wouldn't be as much as an issue in the higher grade levels. This is an issue in many of our schools across the country. Also, parents should be pro-active by spending more time reading with their children. I found your hub to be very interesting.

  • lorenmurcia profile image

    lorenmurcia 5 years ago

    Thank you, naynay2124. I wrote this because I am experiencing problems with my students with regard to their reading comprehension and their ability to analyze word problems. I am appalled that when they come to me as sixth graders, some can't even comprehend a very simple sentence in English!

  • profile image

    oencan 4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. I hope that this program will be realized and be a model to some, if not most, of our schools. God bless and more power!

  • profile image

    JERCAS 4 years ago

    I think this will be very useful to me cause I'm experiencing the same problem with my students. What was the result of the research you conducted? I am planning to do the same action research in our school... If you don't mind, can you give me samples of the tests you used to serve as my basis? thanks a lot.

  • Missy Mac profile image

    Missy Mac 4 years ago from Illinois

    Nice job! My action research was on Integrating Technology and testing pilot learning software. Thanks.

  • Rosalina Cea profile image

    Rosalina Cea 2 years ago from Baao, Camarines Sur

    The difficulty really lies on poor reading comprehension. It can be solved, I think by a curriculum same as ours in the early 6Os whereas far as I remember was more of reading in the primary grades. Nobody was unable to read in our class when we were in Grade l. Students opt to be absent when they are unable to cope up with lessons and later on dislikes going to school.

  • profile image

    edithamacorol2015 2 years ago

    hi. i am interested in conducting a study similar to the premise of your research but in college freshmen. is it okay with you?

    thank you very much.

    More power.

  • profile image

    Flora Sudcalen 16 months ago

    Thanks for sharing.

  • mhieemhai profile image

    mhieemhai 5 months ago

    Hi po I just want to ask permission in using this research as one of my reference in conducting the same study. Thanks :)

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