The impact of metacognitive strategies and self-regulating processes of solving math word problems

Main Article Content

Eda Vula Rrezarta Avdyli Valbona Berisha Blerim Saqipi Shpetim Elezi


This empirical study investigates the impact of metacognitive strategies and self-regulating processes in learners’ achievement on solving math word problems. It specifically analyzes the impact of the linguistic factor and the number of steps and arithmetical operations that learners need to apply during the process of solving math word problems. Two hundred sixty-three learners, of three classes of third graders (N=130) and four classes of fifth graders (N=133) of the elementary cycle from two urban schools of Kosovo, participated in the study. Almost half of the total number of the third and fifth-graders were exposed to metacognitive instruction. The rest of the learners were included in control classes in which they performed tasks without having been given any specific guidance, based exclusively on traditional methods and respective textbooks. All the learners were tested in math word problems twice, before the intervention and after it. Research findings have shown that metacognitive strategies and self-regulating processes that learners use to control their actions, to reason, and to reflect, are one of the main resources that influence their success in solving a math word problem. Although the difference between the pre-test and the post-test results was statistically significant solely with the fifth-grade experimental classes, yet an improved performance was observed in third-grade experimental learners’ classes compared to control classes. Theoretical and practical implications of the research are discussed in the end of the study.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
VULA, Eda et al. The impact of metacognitive strategies and self-regulating processes of solving math word problems. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 49-59, oct. 2017. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 oct. 2017.


Avdyli, Rr. & Cuetos, F. (2012). Reading difficulties in Albanian. Annals of Dyslexia. 62(3), 137–152.
Bestgen, Y. (2009). Computational requirement and the misunderstanding of language inconsistent word problems. In Taatgen,N., & van Rijn, H (Eds.). Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp.1500-1505). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Curran Associates, Inc.
Blair, C., Ursache, A., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Greenberg, M. (2015). Multiple Aspects of Self-Regulation Uniquely Predict Mathematics but Not Letter–Word Knowledge in the Early Elementary Grades. Development Psychology. 51(4), 459-472.
Boonen, J.H.A., van Wesel, F., Jolles, J., & van der Schoot, M. (2014). The role of visual representation type, spatial ability, and reading comprehension in word problem solving: An item-level analysis in elementary school children. International Journal of Educational Research. 68,15–26.
Capraro, M. M., & Joffrion, H. (2006). Algebraic equations: Can middle school students meaningfully translate from words to mathematical symbols? Reading Psychology 27, 147-164.
Capraro, M. R., Capraro, M.M., & Rupley, H.W. (2012). Reading-enhanced word problem solving: a theoretical model. European Journal of Psychology of Education 27, 91-114.
Castro-Martinez, E., & Frias-Zorilla, A. (2013). Two step arithmetic word problems. The Mathematics Enthusiast. 10 (17). 379-406.
Daroczy, G., Wolska, M., Meurers, D. W., & Nuerk, H. (2015). Word problems: a review of linguistic and numerical factors contributing to their difficulty. Frontiers in Psychology. 6:348.
De Corte, E., Verschaffel, L., & Op’t Eynde, P. (2000). Self-regulation: A characteristic and a goal of mathematics education. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 687–726). San Diego: Academic Press.
Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., Compton, L. D., Powell, R. S., Seethaler, M.P., Capizzi, M.A., Schatschneider, C., & Fletcher, M.J. (2006). The Cognitive Correlates of Third-Grade Skill in Arithmetic, Algorithmic Computation, and Arithmetic Word Problems. Journal of Educational Psychology. 98(1), 29-43.
Fuchs, L.S., Seethaler, M.P.,Powell, R. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, L. C., Jack, M. F. (2008). Effects of Preventative Tutoring on the Mathematical Problem Solving of Third-Grade Students with Math and Reading Difficulties. Exceptional Children, 74(2), 155-173.
Griffin, C. C & Jitendra, K. A. (2009). Word Problem solving Instruction in Inclusive Third-Grade Mathematics Classrooms. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(3), 187-201.
Hegarty, M., Mayer, R. E., & Monk, C. A. (1995). Comprehension of arithmetic word problems: A comparison of successful and unsuccessful problem solvers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 18–32.
Hickendorff, M. (2013). The Language Factor in Elementary Mathematics Assessments: Computational Skills and Applied Problem. Solving in a Multidimensional IRT Framework. Applied Measurement in Education, 26, 253–278.
Hiebert, J. (Ed.) (1986). Conceptual and procedural knowledge: The case of mathematics. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Inc. Hillsdale, NJ.
Haylock, D., & Thangata, F. (2007). Key concepts in teaching primary mathematics. London: Sage Publication.
Jitendra, A., Griffin, C., Haria, P., Leh, J., Adams, A., & Kaduvettoor, A. (2007). A comparison of single and multiple strategy instructions on third-grade students' mathematical problem solving. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 115-127.
Jonassen, H. D. (2003). Designing Research–Based Instruction for Story Problems. Educational Psychology Review, 15(3), 267–296.
The Pre-University Education Curricula Framework of Republic of Kosovo (2016). Retrieved from
Lubin, A., Houde, O., & de Neys, W. (2015). Evidence for children's error sensitivity during arithmetic word problem solving. Learning and instruction, 40, 1-8.
Lee, H. J., & Leah, M. H. (2007). Teaching Mathematics Vocabulary to Diverse Groups. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(2), 121-126.
Lewis, A. B. (1989). Training students to represent arithmetic word problems. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 521–531.
Leong, K. Che., & Jerred, W. D. (2001). Effects of consistency and adequacy of language information on understanding elementary mathematics word problems. Annals of Dyslexia, 51, 277 – 298.
Martinez, J., & Martinez, N. (2001). Reading and writing to learn mathematics: A guide and resource book. Boston, MA: Allyn Bacon.
Mevarech. Z. R., & Kramarski, B. (1997). IMPROVE. A Multidimensional Method for Teaching Mathematics in Heterogeneous Classrooms. American Educational Research Journal. 34(2), 365-394.
Mevarech, Z. R. (1999). Effects of metacognitive training embedded in cooperative settings on mathematical problem solving. The Journal of Educational Research, 92, 195–205.
Mevarech, Z. R., Terkieltauh, Sh., Vinberger, T. & Nevet, V. (2010). The effects of metacognitive instruction on third and sixth graders solving word problems. ZDM Mathematics Education, 42,195 -203.
Monroe, E. E., & Orme, M. (2010). Developing mathematical vocabulary. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 46(3), 139-142.
Montague, M., Wagner. C., & Morgan, H. Th. (2000). Solve it! Strategy Instruction to Improve Mathematical Problem Solving. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15(2), 110-116.
Montague, M., Krawec, J. & Sweeney, C. (2008). Promoting Self-Talk to improve Middle School Students’ Mathematical Problem Solving. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 34(2) 13-17.
Montague, M., Enders, C., & Dietz, S. (2011). Effects of Cognitive Strategy Instruction on Math Problem Solving of Middle School Students with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly 34(4) 262- 272.
OECD (2003).The PISA 2003 Assessment framework: mathematics, reading, science and problem solving knowledge and skills. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from,
OECD (2014), PISA 2012 results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ Skills in Tackling Real-Life Problems (Vol. V). Paris: OECD.
Österholm, M. (2005). Characterizing reading comprehension of mathematical texts. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63, 325-346.
Özsoy, G. & Ataman, A. (2009). The effect of metacognitive strategy training on mathematical problem solving achievement. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 1(2), 68-83.
Özsoy, G. & Kuruyer H. G. & Çakiroğlu, A. (2015). Evaluation of Students’ Mathematical Problem Solving Skills in Relation to Their Reading Levels. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 8(1), 113-132.
Pape, J.S. & Smith. C. (2002). Self-Regulating Mathematics Skills. Theory into practice. 41(2), 93-101.
Pimm, D. (1991). Discourse analysis and mathematics education: An anniversary of sorts. In N. Ellerton, & K. Clements (Eds.), Mathematics and language: A review of language factors in mathematics learning. Geelong, Australia: Deakin University Press.
Quintero, A. H. (1983). Conceptual understanding in solving two-step word problems with a ratio. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. 14(2), 102-112.
Reys, R. E., Lindquist, M. M., Lambdin, D. V., Smith, N. L., & Suydam, M. N. (2001). Helping children learn mathematics (6th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Schraw, G., Crippen, K. J., & Hartley, K. (2006). Promoting self-regulation in science education: Metacognition as part of a broader perspective on learning. Research in Science Education, 36, 111–139.
Stern, E. (1993). What makes certain arithmetic word problems involving the comparison of sets so difficult for children? Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 7–23.
Stoeger, H., Fleishmann, S. & Obergriesser, S. (2015). Self-regulated learning (SRL) and the gifted learner in primary school: the theoretical basis and empirical findings on a research program dedicated to ensuring that all students learn to regulate their own learning. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. 16: 257-267, DOI 10.1007/s12564-015-9376-7.
Van de Walle, J. (2004). Elementary and middle school mathematics: Teaching developmentally. (5th ed.).Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon/Longman, Inc.
Verschaffel, L., Greer, B., & De Corte, E. (2000). Making sense of word problems. The Netherlands: Swets and Zeitlinger Publishers.
Vula, E., & Bërdynaj, L. (2011). Collaborative Action Research: Teaching of Multiplication and Division in the Second Grade of Primary School. Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 2(2), 7-16.
Willson, V. L., & Rupley, W. H. (1997). A structural equation model for reading comprehension based on background, phonemic, and strategy knowledge. Journal for the Scientific Study of Reading, 1, 45–64.