Enhancing Upper Secondary Learners’ Problem-solving Abilities using Problem-based Learning in Mathematics


  • Aline Dorimana
  • Alphonse Uworwabayeho
  • Gabriel Nizeyimana


mathematical problem-solving; problem-solving abilities; problem-solving processes; problem-based learning; secondary school learners; Rwandan schools


Developing problem-solving abilities is a major objective of learning mathematics at school. However, learners’ problem-solving abilities are still critical. The main purpose of this study was to investigate how the problem-based learning model could enhance learners’ problem-solving abilities in mathematics. The study used quasi-experimental research with one group pre-test-post-test design. The population in this study consisted of fifty-four grade eleven learners (aged between 16 to 19 years old) from one school in Kayonza District in Rwanda. Data were collected using mathematical problem-solving tests and interviews and were analysed using paired t-tests for dependent sample means and descriptive analysis. The study results indicate that problem-based learning potentially impacts learners’ problem-solving abilities. It is shown from learners’ work in problem-solving that all indicators of problem-solving abilities, namely understanding the problem, planning ways to approach the problem, monitoring the progress while tackling the problem and reviewing the solution process, emerged as being fairly well improved. In addition, based on the interview results from some learners and their teachers, they like the PBL model because embedded tasks helped them to apply the knowledge that can improve their reasoning, creativity and thinking capability. The study recommends that schools encourage teachers to adopt PBL for enhancing learners’ problem-solving abilities. Additionally, researchers are urged to use findings from this study as a reference for further research. Furthermore, researchers could conduct similar research on a large scale using different methodologies.



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