Factors influencing Filipino children's solutions to addition and subtraction word problems

Debbie Bautista*, Michael Mitchelmore, Joanne Mulligan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Young Filipino children are expected to solve mathematical word problems in English, which is not their mother tongue. Because of this, it is often assumed that Filipino children have difficulties in solving problems because they cannot read or comprehend what they have read. This study tested this assumption by determining whether presenting word problems in Filipino or reading them aloud to children in either language facilitated solution accuracy. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, reading word problems aloud did not seem to improve student performance (p > 0.10). In contrast, presenting word problems in Filipino significantly improved solution accuracy (p < 0.0001) and led to differences in error patterns - children were less likely to use an inappropriate arithmetic operation when problems were presented in Filipino. However, the language of the problem had minimal effects on the more difficult Compare problem type. Finally, the benefits of using Filipino were more pronounced for low-achieving students who may have lower proficiency in English than their high-achieving peers (p < 0.01).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)729-745
    Number of pages17
    JournalEducational Psychology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


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