Word problem (mathematics education)

With text object, the specification of a mathematical problem by a longer continuous text description is referred to in the mathematics classroom. The task always consists of the three parts of question and answer computation. The difficulty for the students does not lie in the computational processes themselves, but rather to recognize that cause arithmetic operations to solve and which text information is relevant and which are irrelevant.

The task is usually combined in a final set of questions. To get to the solution, you have to divide the problem into single steps and assign each of these steps a corresponding calculation. Thus, the students documented the same time his logical thinking.

A typical example would be: " A factory produces with five employees in six days, five hundred thousand cans. How many people need to be readjusted to produce 2 million cans in the same time? The engine capacity of this are available. "

Answer: Four times as many employees have to work, that is, 15 new employees.

Unsolvable tasks

There are circulating humorously distorted word problems that are reminiscent in form to true, impossible task, but where the inner logical connection to a successful approach is missing, such as:

The point is to recognize that in the premise of no data on the speed of the mice consuming the exposed cow to be made, but only on the capacity of their oral cavity. It is not uncommon that such arbitrary induced fractures, which are intended to amuse ( and it was only because the subject does not understand the joke ) are also produced by serious task controllers unconsciously. Word problems that have not first checked for consistency, thus are notorious pitfalls in the classroom. See also: Captain syndrome.


  • Instructions and examples for mathematical word problems
  • Word Problems with Walkthrough ( PDF; 185 kB)
  • Didactics of Mathematics