Using systems thinking and social network theory to improve children’s mathematical problem solving skills

Luis Pinzon-Salcedo, Ricardo Barros, Roberto Zarama, Margarita de Meza, Cristina Carulla, Astrid Bejarano


The education of young people with mastery of appropriate mathematical skills is crucial to the future prosperity of every country. The gap between rich and poor countries will get wider if young people in underdeveloped countries continue to get a poor mathematical education. This paper presents the initial stages of a systemic effort to improve the mathematical education of young people in a developing nation. Kids, teachers, parents and researchers from quite different socio-economic backgrounds form part of a collaborative learning effort that integrates them using information technology in order to work together to improve their mathematical problem solving skills. Systems methodologies, social network theory, mathematical tests, and qualitative analysis are used to explore how to improve the students’ beliefs and attitudes towards mathematical problem solving, their collaborative work, and their mathematical skills. In this project we are making a difference in the lives of young people by taking advantage of their different socio-economic backgrounds, the different contexts in which they live, and their different languages.

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