The Use of Problem-Solving Heuristics Approach in Enhancing STEM Students Development of Mathematical Thinking
Parmjit Singh 1 * , Sian Hoon Teoh 1, Tau Han Cheong 1, Nor Syazwani Md Rasid 1, Liew Kee Kor 2, Nurul Akmal Md Nasir 1
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1 Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor, MALAYSIA2 Universiti Teknologi MARA, Kedah, MALAYSIA* Corresponding Author


One of the major aims of STEM education is the development of mathematical thinking. The common misconception is that “doing mathematics” is the same as getting involved in “mathematical thinking”. Rallying to such argument, many would agree that mathematics should be taught as a thinking activity. Thus, this study endeavours to review the effects of a problem-solving heuristic application technique on learners’ mathematical thinking development. This two-phase study analysed the data utilising a descriptive design (N=660) and experimental design (N=54). In the first phase, 660 High School Leavers, with 93% obtaining an A grade in the Math National Examination, ages 18 – 19, registered with a college to undergo a two-year Diploma engineering program were administered a Mathematical Thinking Test. Then, fifty-four of these students participated in a seven-week Pre-Post experimental design to investigate the impact of heuristics application on their development of mathematical thinking. These student’s post-test score was also compared with a batch of one hundred and twenty third-year university students (N=120) majoring in STEM related courses where all these students have taken at least five university level related math courses. Firstly, the results indicate that the high school leavers grades obtained in the national Examination was not translated into their Mathematical Thinking prowess. Secondly, the results depicted a significant increase in the mathematical Thinking post-test score among the students who underwent a seven-week pre-post problem solving heuristic treatment. Thirdly, the students involved in the heuristic application treatment performed better than the third-year students in the Mathematical Thinking test. It is vital that the heuristic method of teaching mathematics be employed to enhance student’s development of mathematical thinking, especially for STEM students.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

INT ELECT J MATH ED, 2018, Volume 13, Issue 3, 289-303

Publication date: 07 Oct 2018

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