There’s more to being a good math word problem solver than just knowing how to do the math computations. Good math word problem solvers tend to hold positive perceptions of and positive attitudes toward math problem solving. In addition, they know and understand how to use the cognitive processes for solving the problem.
The Solve It! Math Problem-Solving Assessment (MPSA) is a structured interview that consists of three word problems and 34 items. It measures student:
- Perception of math achievement and the importance of math problem solving.
- Attitude toward mathematics.
- Knowledge, use, and control of the seven Solve It! problem-solving processes (i.e., read, paraphrase, visualize, hypothesize, estimate, compute, and check).
In terms of measuring student knowledge and use of the Solve It! cognitive processes, the MPSA asks questions aligned to the process. For example, to probe students’ understanding of
hypothesizing, students are asked the following questions:
- How do you make a plan to solve math word problems?
- How do you know which operations to use?
- How do you decide how many steps are needed to solve a math word problem?
The MSPA has the following validity:
- Discriminant validity: MPSA indicated its discriminant validity by differentiating among students with learning disabilities, average achievers, and above-average achievers in mathematics on problem solving and strategy knowledge.
- Concurrent validity: The six word problems had strong concurrent validity with the Woodcock–Johnson Applied Problems subtest (Woodcock & Johnson, 1977), supporting their validity as a measure of mathematical problem solving.
The MSPA (English and in Spanish versions) is available in the Solve It! A Practical Approach to Teaching Mathematical Problem Solving Skills (Third Edition).