Problem solving and creativity: A gender and grade level comparison

Lindsay Hall, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this research was to determine if students’ gender, grade level, and level of creativity have an impact on their use of mathematical problem solving strategies and solution methods when given a nonroutine problem. The number and complexity of the solutions obtained by students who participated in problem solving instruction were compared to those of students receiving no instruction. The degree of complexity of solution methods was assessed and ranked by specialists in mathematical problem solving and was based on the level of understanding and generalizability of the method. The relationship between creativity and solutions found was also explored. In the winter of 2008-2009, data were collected from 170 sixth and seventh grade students in Middle Tennessee. A quasi-experimental design was used. The students were divided into four groups based on current classroom grouping. The treatment classes lasted for six weeks and were designed to elicit multiple solution methods for a single problem. Those who experienced problem solving instruction had both higher solution numbers and higher levels of complexity in both the sixth and seventh grades. There was no significant difference in the number or complexity of solution methods by grade level. There was a difference in the number of solution methods by gender at the sixth grade level. Sixth grade girls had higher numbers of solutions than sixth grade boys. In seventh grade, there was no difference in the number of solutions obtained by gender. There was no relationship between the complexity of solution methods and gender at either grade level. A relationship was not found between creativity scores and the number or complexity of student solutions.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Lindsay Hall, "Problem solving and creativity: A gender and grade level comparison" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3356163.