# Word Problems A Problem

• May 3rd 2014, 04:49 PM
nycmath
Word Problems A Problem
For years I have struggled with word problems. No matter how many questions I play with on a daily basis, I cannot reason out the proper steps needed to find the answer. Undoubtedly, I am not the only person who freezes when it comes to word problems. Students struggle and fear word problems regardless of age and grade. It is their math nightmare and mine, too. I am not a student. I have not been a student since the fall of 1993.

When internet became available to the public, I decided to join as many math forums as I possibly could hoping to help students with homework. I quickly learned that it takes a special person to teach math concepts.

I feel that a tutor is not a true math tutor if he or she has not mastered word problems. Why do you suppose word problems are not easy to grasp? Why are students struggling to set up the equation needed to solve word problems?

Textbooks teach to let x be what we are looking for but setting up the equation is not always easy. It takes a person with true understanding of math to solve word problems, say, at the high school level. What do you say?
• May 8th 2014, 04:46 AM
HallsofIvy
Re: Word Problems A Problem
"Word problems" are difficult because they require thinking rather than just applying formulas. Far too many students memorize formulas rather than learning what they mean so that they are able to think about adapting the formulas to specific situations in word problems.
• May 8th 2014, 05:22 AM
nycmath
Re: Word Problems A Problem
Quote:

Originally Posted by HallsofIvy
"Word problems" are difficult because they require thinking rather than just applying formulas. Far too many students memorize formulas rather than learning what they mean so that they are able to think about adapting the formulas to specific situations in word problems.

I believe word problems should be a topic divided into several courses: WP1, WP2, WP3, etc. Math teachers do not spend enough time teaching word problems. On any given test, students face one or two word problems which is not enough to test their knowledge.

Most of the time, a test will have the same word problem given in class with the exception that the numbers are different. How does this help students? I purchased a book titled How To Solve Word Problems in Algebra a few years ago. The book covers most word problems taught in algebra 1 and 2. I use this book but not enough times.

I know people who only like equations and consider themselves "experts" in solving for x. Of course, these people have never taken differential equations. LOL.

I need more practice with word problems. I will continue to post questions in the calculus section as I go deeper into my self-study of single variable calculus but at the same time, I will also post word problems in the other sections hoping to learn better techniques to improve my word problem skills.
• Jun 18th 2014, 08:06 PM
peterwilliam
Re: Word Problems A Problem
Well yes you shared right thing here about word problems.