Journal of Advances in Humanities and Social Sciences
Journal ISSN: 2414-3111
Article DOI:
Received: 15 May 2016
Accepted: 16 July 2016
Published: 27 October 2016
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  • Applying Polya's four-steps and Schoenfeld's behavior categories to enhance students’ mathematical problem solving

Yuwalee Thiangthung

Published online: 2016


The purposes of this action research were to enhance students’ ability in solving mathematical problems by applying Polya’s Four-Steps in problem solving (understanding problem, devising a plan, carrying out the plan, and looking back) and Schoenfeld's Behavior Categories (resources, heuristics, control, and belief systems), and to investigate students’ attitude towards mathematical problem solving. The topics used in this study were principles of counting and probability. The participants were 35 Grade 11 students from a mathematics class at a secondary school in Bangkok, Thailand studying in the second semester of academic year 2015. The research instruments were 11 lesson plans on principles of counting and probability, two summative tests, and an attitude questionnaire on mathematical problem solving. Teaching and learning lasted for 13 periods with 50 minutes in each period. There were three cycles of action plan (plan, do, check, and reflect). The problem solving techniques from the two authors were integrated in each lesson. Data were collected and analyzed from tests, students’ homework, teacher’s reflection, and attitude questionnaire. The results revealed that 80.19% of all students passed both summative tests in problem solving. So, the students’ ability in solving mathematical problems was enhanced to the level required by the researcher. More than 93% of students applied Polya’s step 1, 2 and 3 in solving problems but only 42.80% of students applied step 4. About 91% of students applied Schoenfeld's Behavior Categories especially resources and heuristics. For attitude questionnaire using Likert’s Scale, the researcher divided it into three categories as follows: 1) Positive feeling towards mathematical problem solving, 2) Negative feeling towards mathematical problem solving, and 3) Applying Polya’s Four-Steps and Schoenfeld's Behavior Categories. In the first category, most students showed positive feeling to solve mathematical problems (x̅ = 3.66, SD = 1.18). In the second category, majority of students disagreed with this category. There were a few students who felt uncomfortable to solve mathematical problems (x̅ = 2.45, SD = 0.94). In the last category, there were quite a lot of students who applied Polya’s Four-Steps and Schoenfeld's Behavior Categories (x̅ = 3.51, SD = 1.06).