Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Algarni, Ali; Birrell, Carole; and Porter, Anne, Evaluating the Use of Worked Examples and Problem Solving Methods in Teaching Mathematics for ESL Students at the Tertiary Level, Proceedings of the Fifth Annual ASEARC Conference - Looking to the future - Programme and Proceedings, 2 - 3 February 2012, University of Wollongong.


This study presents an overview of the baseline attitudes of King Abdul-Aziz, University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (KAU) students to various methods used in mathematics teaching when being taught mathematics in a second language. Seventy male undergraduate students who were enrolled in the first year mathematics subject MATH132 at the KAU were asked to participate in the survey. The results showed that there were differences between the perceived effectiveness of the use of worked examples and problem solving in teaching of mathematics for ESL at tertiary level. Furthermore, the study found that the ESL students who rate their mathematics ability as low prefer to study mathematics using worked examples while the students who rate their mathematics ability as high prefer problem solving or a mixture of problem solving and worked examples. Comments from students who prefer worked examples include their experience of a reduction in anxiety whereas for students who prefer problem solving, comments suggest they experience an increase in confidence. This suggests an effective teaching strategy would be to scaffold from worked examples to problem solving and through this benefitting both weak and more able students.