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Problem Solving in Mathematics Instruction and Teacher Professional Development

Patricio Felmer, Peter liljedahl, and Boris Koichu, eds.
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Research in Mathematics Education
[Reviewed by
Sandra Richy John
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Problem Solving in Mathematics Instruction and Teacher Professional Development is a part of Springer's Research in Mathematics Education monograph series that brings together recent research on the theme of problem solving in mathematics classrooms. The book provides insights into the design and implementation of problem solving through the experience of eminent and diverse scholars from different nations who have conducted various professional development workshops for teachers in K–16 educational setting and have aided in the adaptation of problem-solving into their mathematics curriculum. 
The book is divided into five major sections: (1) Theoretical and practical perspectives on problem solving in mathematics, (2) Design of powerful problem-solving situations, (3) Effects of engagement with problem-solving, (4) On the role of teachers in problem-solving classrooms, and (5) Teacher professional development and problem solving. It highlights suitable pedagogical approaches conducive to problem-solving such as randomized group work allocation, collaborative learning with students of various age-groups and academic potentials, presenting non-routine challenging problem-solving situations that has meaning to personal life, addressing teacher-student beliefs and engagement, and issues of equity in mathematical education.
The studies showcased in each of the five sections are highly referenced quantitative and qualitative research that connects theory into practice. Conceptual framework, methodology and data analysis are sufficiently detailed that is beneficial for replication for future researchers. The authors have taken careful consideration to present numerous problem-solving illustrations and sample coding of interview transcripts with teacher and student participants. The placement of chapters from multiple authors within each section are planned well as transitions are smooth without losing its essence. This keeps the reader intrigued in the mathematical dialogue happening across the pages. Additionally, most of the tables, figures, and graphs are printed in color that makes it easy for the readers to understand without being lost in the mathematical proof explanations. Another highlight is the use of digital technology for classroom problem-solving instruction that has become imperative post the global pandemic.
As we know problem-solving is a highly valued skillset for the 21st century that needs to be acquired from mathematics instruction. Often, instructors end up teaching the content with traditional approaches of memorizing, procedural reproductions of facts and formulae without giving much heed to the conceptual understanding that can be gained through intentional problem-solving exercises in classrooms. Also, student engagement and appropriate placement of learning tasks is another area of concern. Within these focal points, this book is a great repository of knowledge for graduate students, mathematics researchers and teacher educators who wants to effectively implement problem-solving in classrooms. The main takeaway from this book is that change in practice leads to change in beliefs and vice-versa. 


Sandra Richy John is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction specializing in STEM Education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois, USA. She is an engineer by training till her master’s degree and has worked in software engineering industry. Her research interests are design-based learning and integrating technology in mathematics education. She loves to describe herself as an engineer who loves to teach. She can be reached at