Thematic problem solving: a case study on an approach to teaching problem solving in undergraduate mathematics

Matthew Jones, Alison Megeney


Specialist mathematics, statistics and operational research (MSOR) programmes are recognised as intellectually demanding, and require students to formulate, abstract, and solve mathematical problems in a rigorous way. The process of developing the skills to do this well and communicate results can be challenging for learners as it requires a deep understanding of themes in mathematics as well as methods for solving problems. In this article we demonstrate how elements of Freudenthals Realistic Mathematics Education can be applied to teaching problem solving in undergraduate mathematics programmes. We describe an approach that moves away from standard practices and goes beyond problem solving methods to develop an understanding of common themes in mathematics.


Problem solving, mathematics education, realistic mathematics education, cognitive process.

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