Journal für Mathematik-Didaktik vol:31 issue:1 pages:9-29
During the last 20 years, many scholars have argued in various ways that the (traditional) practice of word problems in school mathematics does not foster in students, indeed inhibits, a genuine disposition towards mathematical modelling and applied problem solving. In this article we give a brief review and discussion of this research, including a summary of earlier work culminating in the book by Verschaffel et al. (2000) and with special attention to the more recent empirical work. We begin with presenting the ascertaining studies documenting and illuminating the phenomenon of “suspension of sense-making” when doing school arithmetic word problems. Then we move to studies that have contributed to the explanation of the observed effects. This explanation is followed by a review of some recent design experiments wherein the modelling perspective has been implemented and tested. Afterwards we discuss some recent studies on the difficulties encountered by teachers who try to implement this new perspective into their daily classroom practices. Finally, we discuss a number of educational implications of the research done so far and some challenges for the future of teaching mathematical modelling.