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BATAC NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL

Mathematics Department
SY 2014 2015

ENHANCING THE PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS OF FOURTH YEAR STUDENTS IN


THE APPLICATION OF TRIGONOMETRIC FUNCTIONS THROUGH
TECHNOLOGY MEDIATED INSTRUCTION

An Action Research

ENHANCING THE PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS OF FOURTH YEAR STUDENTS


THROUGH TECHNOLOGY MEDIATED INSTRUCTION

Background of the Study


Problem solving is a characteristic of mathematical activity and an important way of
developing mathematical knowledge. Since in general, the utmost concern of teachers is the
success of the student based on the domains of educational objectives and their independent
success based on their abilities as problem solvers. Balogun (1982), stressed that problem
solving can help students improve their analytic powers and consequently apply these powers in
diverse situations including, mathematical facts, skills, concepts and principles by illustrating
mathematical applications and the interrelations among objects.
As prescribed by Polya (1966), mathematical problem-solving can best be achieved when
students are introduced to the problem, able to recollect known relationships and fact about the
problem, obtain necessary requirements needed for the solution to the problem, analyse the
requirements with respect to the relations and verify the solution after analysis. Hence, the
primary goal of Mathematics teaching is to develop a community of problem solvers.
According to Nuqui (Manila Bulletin, 2004), many students have thwart attitude towards
mathematics especially in problem solving. Some approach math classes with apprehension and
fear that they may embarrass themselves by being unable to solve mathematical problems.
Others lack confidence to perform the process and become frustrated because they have poor
foundations in attacking mathematical problems.
Mathematics appreciation, understanding and effective feedback process can be achieved
when appropriate and simplified presentation is employed. Problem-solving approach combined
with Computer-Assisted Instruction is an integration of two teaching methods which sends

stimuli while presenting to the mental auditory learning and seeing senses of the learner at the
same time. In effect, it stimulates and sustains students interest in mathematics. Several studies
have been carried out using CAI in teaching mathematics (Oswald, 1996; Harrington, 1999;
Spinelli, 2001; Warner and Mechan, 2001).
The combination of CAI-PS is usually a good beginning in lesson presentation to
foundation mathematics students. Afolabi (2011) outlines benefits for the utilization of CAI-PS
as development of problem solving skills, development of functional knowledge and
manipulative skills, acquisition of scientific appreciation and interest. The primary aim of
teaching mathematics is to enable students development of understanding and skills related to
mathematical operations and development of abilities applicable to problem solving. That
obviously indicates Packards (1993) views, that students who are actively involved in their own
learning usually become more independent learners and problem solvers.
Putting all these together, the researchers believe that technology-mediated instruction
will provide opportunities and experiences for the students to develop and improve their problem
solving skills and performance. Thus, it was considered as a strategy for experimentation. This
enables the students to practice skills necessary for problem solving. The students interact to
clarify and understand the problem, describe and illustrate the problem, discuss and suggest
methods to solve the problem and apply operations not only inside the classroom but also
especially outside the four walls of the classroom.
The Problem
This is an action research designed to improve the problem solving skills of fourth year
students through technology-mediated instruction.

Problem Identification. It is common observation by mathematics teachers that students


are very good in memorizing mathematical facts, concepts and principles but do not know how
to relate and apply them in solving word problems in mathematics. One such observation as cited
by Ramos (2000) was that high school students could hardly solve problems that require higher
thinking skills, consequently, students with poor analyzing skills often misinterpret a problem.
Another research as cited by Corpuz, found out that most of her students got low on
mathematical problems which requires higher cognitive processes.
This was confirmed by the results of the observations conducted by the researchers that
most students could hardly solve word problems. They lack skills in solving problems. The
researchers also noticed that during the pretest, the students spent much time in reading and
analyzing a certain word problem.
Analysis of the Problem. The researchers observations coupled with the results of the
pretest indicated that students are poor in solving problems, particularly applications on
trigonometric functions. Likewise, their poor performance was a manifestation of their poor
problem solving skills. Specifically, students difficulties to solve problems are due to the
following factors:
1. poor background on the steps of problem solving;
2. difficulty in setting up relationships among the given and the unknown and in
setting up equations and analyzing the problem;
3. difficulty in associating previously learned concepts and skills to new lessons; and
4. lack of motivational technique.
Having identified these cause, the researchers thought of using technology-mediated
instruction to enhance the students problem solving skills.
The Hypothesis

In conducting this action research, the researchers aimed to improve the problem solving
skills through technology-mediated instruction. The researchers were guided by the hypothesis:
If the students were exposed to technology-mediated instruction, then their problem solving
skills will be greatly improved. For deeper understanding of the formulated hypothesis, they
considered that technology-mediated instruction allow students to discover, explore and
investigate problems. Interaction is maximized. Also, exposure to real life problems is
introduced.
Action Taken
This section presents the procedure done in gathering the necessary information needed
for the action research. This includes the sources of data, research instrument, data gathering
procedure and statistical treatment.
Sources of

Data. The samples of this study were students of IV- Sapphire, IV

Sardonyx, and IV Topaz. Thirty (30) students were randomly selected from each section.
Research Instruments. Two similar tests involving applications of trigonometric
functions word problems (the pretest and posttest) were the main tools in gathering the data. It
was a 5-item researcher-made test on word problem involving applications of trigonometric
functions. This instrument provided the students an opportunity to reason logically in solving
word problems with varying degree of difficulty. All items were based on the 2010 SEC
compliant books to ensure content validity. Each problem was given five points. These problems
tested the skills of the students in understanding the problems, devising a plan, carrying out a
solution and checking the answer. Each problem was scored based on the scoring plan shown in
Table 1.

Table 1. Scoring plan for the problem test

Skill
Understand the Problem
(UP)
Devising a Plan (DP)
Carrying out a Plan (CP)
Looking Back (LB)
Total

Number of Points per Problem


1
2
3

Total

1
2
1
5

1
2
1
5

1
2
1
5

1
2
1
5

1
2
1
5

5
10
5
25

The maximum point that could be given to solutions of students poor problem solving
skills is 25. The scores together with the mean scores were interpreted using the following range
of values with their respective interpretation. The researchers assigned the range on the highest
obtained score and the lowest obtained score in the pre test with the same class size and class
intervals.
Range

Descriptive Interpretation

21 25

Outstanding

16 20

Very Satisfactory

11 15

Satisfactory

6 10

Fair

15

Poor

Data Gathering Procedure. The researchers used three steps in gathering the
data, namely pretesting, treatment and posttesting. The researchers administered the five-item
pretest to the fourth year students on the application of trigonometric functions. The scores were
tabulated and analyzed. After analyzing the results, the results revealed that the students did not
perform well because they got low scores. And so, the researchers gave immediately the
treatment which is technology-mediated instruction.

The intervention was employed for ten class meetings. The researchers used the said
method in teaching how to solve word problems. They gave the students several
activities/exercises inside the classroom using different websites and softwares. The students
were grouped by pair and were given instructions on how to use the websites and softwares. In
each pair, the students were allowed to discuss problems, investigate the facts and unknown and
carry out with the solutions together. During the technology-mediated instruction, different
groupings were made to maximized social interaction because the researchers believe that this is
one way of promoting student-student interaction or this could motivate them to solve problems.
After the intervention, the posttest was administered. The scores were tabulated and
analyzed to determine if there is an improvement in the problem solving skills of the students.
The researchers also analyzed the responses of the students in the question, Was the technologymediated instruction helped you improved your problem solving skills? Why? to supplement
the gathered data.
Statistical Treatment. To determine the effectiveness of the technology-mediated
instruction in enhancing the problem solving skills of the students, the results of the pretest and
posttest were analyzed and interpreted using the frequency counts, mean, percentage, standard
deviation and t-test for correlated samples. Frequency counts were used to determine how many
students got scores equal to or above the 50% in the pretest and posttest scores of the students.
The t-test was used to determine the significance of the difference of the mean scores of the
pretest and posttest to describe the totality of the improvement in the problem solving skills of
the students.

Findings and Interpretation


This part presents an analysis and interpretation of the data gathered. A comparison of the
students scores before and after the implementation of the intervention and the improvement of
their problem solving skills are discussed in this section.
Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV Sapphire. Table 2A shows that in the
pretest, 19 out 30 students got scores ranging from 6 to 10 with a descriptive interpretation of
Fair while in the posttest 30 or 100% of the respondents got scores ranging from 21 25 with
a descriptive interpretation of Outstanding. This means that the problem solving skills of the
students were improved from Fair to Outstanding.
The posttest mean score (22.37) of the students is very much greater than their pretest
mean (7.50) as evidenced by the computed t value of 29.20 which is greater than the critical
value of 2.76 at the 0.01 level of significance with 29 degrees of freedom. This implies that there
was a significant improvement in the problem solving skills of the students.
Table 2A. Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV - Sapphire
Range of Scores
21 25
16 20
11 15
6 10
15
Total
Mean
Standard Deviation
Mean Difference
t value
** p < .01

Descriptive
Interpretation
Outstanding
Very Satisfactory
Satisfactory
Fair
Poor

Pretest
f
0
0
3
19
8
30
7.50
2.69

%
0.00
0.00
10.00
63.33
26.67
100.00

Posttest
f
30
0
0
0
0
30
22.37
14.87
14.87
29.20**

%
100.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
100.00

(p = .000)

Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV Sardonyx. It can be gleaned from table
2B that in the pretest, 18 of the respondents got scores ranging from 1 5 with a descriptive
interpretation of Poor. In the posttest, it can be noted that 19 out of 30 respondents got scores
ranging from 16 20 with a descriptive rating of Very Satisfactory. This means that after the
intervention was done, the performance of students were improved from Poor to Very
Satisfactory.
The finding is strengthened by the results of the t test where the posttest mean score
(17.93) of the students is significantly higher than the pretest mean score (5.23). This evidently
shown by the computed t value of 20.01 which is greater than the critical value 2.76 at the 0.01
level of significance at 29 degrees of freedom. This implies that technology-mediated instruction
is an effective intervention in enhancing the problem solving skills of students.
Table 2B. Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV - Sardonyx
Range of Scores
21 25
16 20
11 15
6 10
15
Total
Mean
Standard Deviation
Mean Difference
t value
** p < .01

Descriptive
Interpretation
Outstanding
Very Satisfactory
Satisfactory
Fair
Poor

Pretest
F
0
0
1
11
18
30
5.23
3.18

%
0.00
0.00
3.33
36.67
60.00
100.00

Posttest
F
5
19
6
0
0
30
17.93
2.63
12.70
20.01**

%
16.67
63.33
20.00
0.00
0.00
100.00

(p = .000)

Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV Topaz. It can be noted form table 2C
that 18 of the students got scores ranging 1 5 with a descriptive rating of Poor in the pretest
while 19 of the 30 respondents got a score ranging from 16 20 with a descriptive rating of

Very Satisfactory. This suggests that after the intervention was done, the performance of
students were improved from Poor to Very Satisfactory.
Results of the t test disclosed that the posttest mean score (20.40) of the students is
significantly higher than their pretest mean score (4.73) as indicated by the computed t value of
32.62 which is greater than the critical value of 2.76 at the 0.01 level of significance with 29
degrees of freedom. This implies that there was a significant improvement in the skills of the
students in solving word problems through the integration of technology in the classroom.
Table 2C. Pretest and posttest scores of students of IV - Topaz
Range of Scores
21 -- 25
16 -- 20
11 -- 15
6 -- 10
1 -- 5

Descriptive
Interpretation
Outstanding
Very Satisfactory
Satisfactory
Fair
Poor

Total
Mean
Standard Deviation
Mean Difference
t - value
** p < .01

Pretest
F
0
0
1
8
21
30
4.73
2.49

Posttest

%
0.00
0.00
3.33
26.67
70.00
100.00

F
12
18
0
0
0
30
20.40
0.97
15.67
32.62**

%
40.00
60.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
100.00

(p = .000)

Based also on the answers of the students regarding the question, Was the technologymediated instruction helped you improved your problem solving skills? Why?. Technology
mediated instruction is really of great help or a good strategy in improving problem solving skills
of the students. Some of their answers were:
The use of technology inside the classroom helped me in
understanding the problem. With the interactive websites and
interactive activities with computer have boost my motivation in
solving mathematics problems.
- Student 1

Yes! The face to face encounter with interactive computer


softwares improved my ability to comprehend the problems I am
solving. And with a just a click you can have an interaction of your
classmates without opening your mouth.
- Student 2
Conclusion
Based on the findings presented, the skills of the students in solving word problems were
greatly improved through technology-mediated instruction. Thus, technology mediated
instruction is effective in improving the problem solving skills of the students.

Recommendations
Since technology-mediated instruction was proven to be effective, the researchers highly
recommend that mathematics teachers should use this as a strategy in teaching mathematics
especially in problem solving not only on the applications of trigonometric functions but also
related topics or concepts. It is also recommended that school administrators must ensure that
facilities be available to maximize the use to technology inside the mathematics classroom.
Moreover, further trainings should be conducted on the proper use of technology inside the
classroom.
It is also recommended that researches parallel to this must be conducted in a longer
period of time to see the real effectiveness of the technology-mediated instruction.