The present study examines the effect of two differently structured methods, traditional and problem-solving, of teaching children mathematics the first five years in school as well as differences between boys’ and girls’ achievement depending on teaching approaches. The progress made by these students is presented by the five component measures of their mathematical proficiency; productive disposition, conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, strategic competence and adaptive reasoning. The tests (test in pre-school and national test in school year five) employed in this study were developed by an expert group contracted by the National Council of Education in Sweden. Differences between School A and School B, and boys and girls, on mathematical skills at 11 years of age were examined using t-tests for independent samples. The t-test was performed on raw scores across the entire sample. The results show that there are no significant differences between teaching methods when assessing procedural fluency. Students’ progress in conceptual understanding, strategic competence and adaptive reasoning is significantly better when teachers teach with a problem-based curriculum. In order to develop aspects of self-efficacy, the results show that pupils would better benefit from a traditional curriculum. Boys and girls who have been taught with similar methods perform equivalent in both the traditional and the problem solving group.
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