# Computational requirement and the misunderstanding of language inconsistent word problems

- Yves Bestgen,
*Université catholique de Louvain*

## Abstract

Undergraduates meet with difficulties when they have to solve
comparison problems in which key words in the problem prime inappropriate
operations (e.g., the word "less" priming subtraction when addition is required
to solve the problem). This is a comprehension error. In this paper, I examine
one factor suspected of making the comprehension of some problems more difficult
than others: the computational requirement of the problem. In two experiments,
the size of the operand involved in the computation and the number of
mathematical operations required to solve a problem were manipulated. Both
factors affected the number of comprehension errors leading to the conclusion
that increasing the computational requirement of a problem drove some of the
solvers to use a superficial mode of understanding the text.

Back to Friday Posters